Apparently, back in 2004, Paramount released a movie called Without a Paddle, where three city folk head into the wilderness for some crazy adventures. If you don’t remember it, you’re not the only one. I hadn’t even heard of it until I looked it up on Surprisingly, Without a Paddle did well enough at the box office for Paramount to take another stab at the premise. While three guys go into the woods for lots of zany adventures, you can’t really call this a sequel because the cast is different and this one went directly to video. While Without a Paddle grossed almost $60 million domestically, I’m guessing the folks at Paramount decided to forgo a theatrical release to prevent the brawls that would surely breakout out as people demanded their ticket money back.

WAP2_Still_PK_00169.jpgNature’s Calling: Without a Paddle is truly one of the stupidest films I’ve seen in a long time. Two guys in their mid-twenties have been friends their entire lives but find themselves growing apart. Ben (Oliver James), is still a nerd but is now a workaholic lawyer who doesn’t have much fun. Zach (Kristopher Turner) is still the free spirit he always was, now a nurse in a convalescent home. One of Zach’s patients Mrs. Bessler (Ellen Albertini Dow), is dying and asks him to do her a favor: find her granddaughter, Heather (Madison Riley) who disappeared in the Oregon woods seven years before.
Wouldn’t ya know it; Heather just happens to be the girl Ben’s had a crush on since high school and is still pining over. So Zach tells Ben the scoop and persuades him to travel to Oregon with him to find Heather. Zach figures at least the time with Ben should help their friendship. Mrs. Bessler’s grandson Nigel (Rik Young) joins them for the trip; fresh off the plane from London and sporting one of the most annoying British accents ever heard on film.
From here, Nature’s Calling: Without a Paddle descends into utter stupidity. Ben brings nothing with him for their journey into the woods; Zach brings two kegs of beer and Nigel a steamer trunk full of clothes. Apparently, food isn’t necessary. When the boys do stumble upon Heather, they find an ardent environmentalist named “Earthchild” living happily in the wilderness with her friend Thunderstorm (Amber McDonald). They’ve constructed a rather large home of natural materials and seem as happy as can be.
One thing I have to mention before putting this sorry film behind me. The appearance of Jerry Rice; yes, that Jerry Rice, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. I respect the guy for wanting to have some fun in his retirement but this is bad. He pops in and out of the second act as some sort of forest monster to Zach and Ben, but as it turns out, his name is Hal Gore, forgotten brother of former Vice President, Al. Hal apparently invented the internet and was aware of global warming long before Al was, and Al took credit for it. If that isn’t bad enough, Tipper was Hal’s girlfriend before Al took her. Positively ridiculous.
For this Blu-ray disc Paramount uses an MPEG-4/AVC codec and a single-layer BD25 to accommodate the short, ninety-one-minute film. The film’s colors show up very brightly, very vividly. Facial tones are reasonably natural, grain is minimal, and there are no obvious signs of edge enhancement or other artifacts. The picture is a bit soft on detail, though, and the overall look of the screen is somewhat glossy and glassy. Nevertheless, the Oregon forest locations look quite impressive.
The lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio seems like overkill a dialogue driven film with not much of a soundtrack. Nevertheless, in comparison to the SD disc’s regular Dolby Digital, the TrueHD sounds slightly clearer and smoother. The TrueHD does exactly what it’s called upon to do, even if that’s not saying much.
The disc includes three featurettes, which are in high definition. The first is a ten-minute making-of affair called “Up The Creek: The Making of Without a Paddle: Nature’s Calling,” that lasts a little over ten minutes and provides the standard information any other making-of featurette gives us. The second item is “Furious Nuts,” about seven minutes with the CGI squirrels; and the third item is “Treehouse Tales,” about three minutes on the tree house sets. Things wind down with a five-minute gag reel and four deleted scenes, the latter totaling just over one minute.
Finally, the disc contains sixteen scene selections, with bookmarks; English as the only available spoken language; English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles; English captions for the hearing impaired; and access to a digital copy download for Windows (not compatible with iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, Sony PSP, or Microsoft Zune or any other portable player).