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Movie Review

Without a Paddle

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for drug content, sexual material, language, crude humor and some violence

Reviewed by: Lacey Mical (Callahan) Walker

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures

How can I deal with temptations? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

Teen Qs™—Christian Answers for teenagers
Teens! Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
Featuring: Seth Green, Matthew Lillard, Dax Shepard, Abraham Benrubi, Rachel Blanchard
Director: Steven Brill
Producer: Donald De Line
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

“The call of the wild, the thrill of adventure. The mistake of a lifetime.”

This movie is a prime example of just how depraved our culture has become. Had I not been committed to writing this review, I would have walked out after the first ten minutes. I hope that people will benefit from reading this by being spared the same experience.

As the opening credits roll, we see flashback footage of four young teenage boys growing up together in the 1980s. The four are obviously inseparable pals, enjoying a typical American childhood with camping, biking, a tree house, pranks, dares, even a “blood brothers” covenant.

Fast-forward fifteen years… Our stars have grown up and taken very different paths. Dan (Seth Green) is an M.D. with his own successful practice. He longs for a steady relationship, but is too shy to pursue getting to know any ladies.

Jerry (Matthew Lillard) works a typical 9-5 suit and briefcase job. He is scared to commit to a lifetime relationship, a fact that frustrates his live-in girlfriend who is becoming impatient for a proposal.

Tom (Dax Shepard) is an unemployed, under-achieving motorcycle dude with an inferiority complex.

The forth friend, Billy, has died in a kite surfing accident, and this tragedy is what brings the three remaining friends together. After gathering at his funeral, they reminisce at the tree house the four once shared. There, they are reminded of a trip they had planned throughout their boyhood, spurred on by Billy’s excitement to locate the $200,000.00 lost decades ago by a bank robber somewhere in a remote region of the Cascades.

So, armed with their treasure map, compass, and a nostalgic sense of adventure, the three set off on a canoe trip through the Oregon wilderness.

Along the way, the men encounter a variety of characters, including: two beautiful, scantily clad environmentalists who have set up camp in a tree; a grizzly bear that attempts to adopt Dan as her cub; two marijuana farmers who, upset when the three friends find their illegal crop, pursue them with knives, guns, and explosives; and a gruff, old mountain man (Burt Reynolds) who ultimately helps the three learn a lesson which is the moral of the story.

The premise of this movie is simple and good. It could have been both entertaining and fun to play out. Unfortunately, screenwriters Jay Leggett and Mitch Rouse chose to weave together a series of crude jokes; twisted, adolescent pranks; foul language and sexual perversion, with nauseating results.

Filthy words peppered the script, as did using our Lord’s name in vain. There was also suggestive dialogue, and perverted sexual references.

The violence was not excessive for a PG-13 rating, but it was present:

In one scene, Dan is forced to bite off, chew, and swallow a bite of a whole, freshly killed animal brought to him by a bear.

One of the marijuana-growing thugs chops the head off a fish and then talks to the fish’s body, waving it around with blood and insides showing.

The three men get into a fight with the two thugs, and the five are shown beating each other and, at one point, biting each other.

The men are shot at several times, and Tom’s arm is grazed by a bullet. He doesn’t realize until later, and then Dan sews it shut. We see the threaded needle going in and out of his skin.

Perverse sexual content is present at every turn. I see no point in re-hashing the debacle in this review, but it included homosexual references, lewd humor, crude bodily gestures, etcetera.

When Dan, Tom and Jerry are running through the marijuana field being chased by the two thugs and their dogs, the field catches on fire, and as the three friends breathe in the smoke, they become “high.” The dogs are also affected, and they fall over, imagining constellations in the night sky. The audience in the theater where I was sitting laughed and clapped as the drugs took effect. This “accidental” drug use isn’t portrayed as negative, but if anything it is shown as a fun pastime.

The moral of this story is: Life is its own treasure. The pursuit of money is shown as empty and meaningless, and we are meant to learn that one should give up anything just to live for one more minute.

“Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” --Luke 17:33

It is sad that people will leave the theater after taking in this show not having discovered life’s real treasure—a lasting relationship with Jesus Christ. When we know that peace which only He can bring, then and only then can true contentment be ours—both in this life on Earth, and afterwords.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

Viewer Comments
Negative—I saw this movie with Christian friends, and we rarely laughed. There were a few, and I mean a few, funny moments. This movie has a lot of cussing and sexual content. I was embarrassed throughout most of the movie. I pray for Burt Reynolds and the rest of the cast in their future acting roles.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1½]
Janna Rowland, age 37
Negative—I saw this film, and I was not pleased with the results despite some funny moments in the movie. It’s sad to see a film with a wonderful moral be reduced to garbage with cuss words and sexual content. Now, this is just me but, for some reason, the marijuana-crop scene seemed to be a reference to a similar scene in Mel Brooks’ “History of the World: Part I.” But that’s just my theory.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
Shannon H., age 23
Positive—I thought that this was a very funny movie!!! There was some objectionable material, but nothing you wouldn’t expect from a PG-13 rating. It had some great humor, and I thought the three of these guys together as a cast was a great idea. They all come from comedic backgrounds, and they do well with it. I think me favorite part was when they were spooning in the rain. I won’t say anymore than that as not to ruin it, but to those of you who have seen it… you know what I’m talking about!!! Great comedy, but you may want to reconsider if your above or under the teenage years. I think 13-19 is the major demographic here. But good movie nonetheless. I would like to see it again!
My Ratings: [Average/3½]
Sara, age 18
Positive—While some of the humor was quite crude. I thought the underlying theme of friendship and support was very good. As is learned by the characters, a meaningful relationship is more important than money or seeking adventure. While it truly missed the mark as to what truly gives meaning to Life (a personal relationship with Jesus Christ) for a secular movie I was surprised to find that it actually had a moral to the story. Certainly, not a good choice for younger teens, I do believe it is entertaining for older teens and young adults.
My Ratings: [Average/3½]
Steve, age 47
Comments from young people
Negative—Here is another example of a (possibly) great moral in a movie, gone terribly wrong. I am a church-going, devoted christian, and I heard more sexual content from this movie then I have heard all year. Add in the drug reference, and even more sexual content, and you have a movie that has more use being burned then being watched. See this movie, and you have just completely and utterly wasted part of your hard earned paycheck.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3]
Daniel Kiddiez, age 14
Neutral—This movie DOES contain unneeded cursing and sexual humor. And it contains some violence. I would not recommend this movie for anyone offended by this. It is a good movie, but it would have been better without the cussing and sexual humor.
My Ratings: [Average]
Patrick, age 13
Positive—This movie was very funny! I’m pretty young, but a lot of the content of this movie didn’t offend me. I’ll tell you why now. First off language: It was pretty mild/moderate; nothing severe. It was mostly sh**s and some h*lls and a**es… The sh**s weren’t that offensive to me because I hear them all the time at school. Second Sexual Content: Most of it was average moral rating content like just sleeping in the same bed and mentions of getting laid. They’re was talk about testicles, but God gave them to men for a purpose, but I’m not really interested in hearing about it though. But it was nothing too objectional. One part I thought was gross was what the earth tree lady said the rain felt like. I didn’t want to hear that.

…Overall, its a good laugh with some objectional content—nothing to strong though.
My Ratings: [Average/4½]
Jessica, age 11
Movie Critics
…crude bathroom humor and sexually suggestive references permeate the dialog…
Mary Draughon, Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…Vulgar, crude and pretty hilarious… works the boobs-in-wilderness angle with attention to both meanings (that’s boobs, not wilderness)…
Houston Chronicle
…no stroke of genius… It would be easy to dismiss Without a Paddle were it not for the genuine camaraderie among its three buddies.
Mark Wolf, Rocky Mountain News
…Weighed down by a patched-together script, a sluggish pace and a wavering tone…
Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter
…Buddies and humor get lost in the woods… What promises to be a comic take on the 1972 thriller “Deliverance,” is actually closer to “Dude, Where’s My Car?” as it drifts aimlessly from one dopey situation to another…
John Monaghan, Detroit Free Press