Hall of Fame Speech #7: Strange Wilderness

Brief note before we start: last July we got together and worked out a second class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly seven years since we started BMT and the films we had seen more than five years ago, in some cases, deserved a rewatch and reassessment. Over the five weeks leading up to the fifth (seventh?) Smaddies Baddies we’ll bring you previews and Hall of Fame Speeches for the five films chosen. This is the second, for the catastrophic Happy Madison stoner comedy Strange Wilderness. The intention is to reminisce a bit about what we remember about the film, what we think of it now, and why it deserved a special place in BMT history. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for Strange Wilderness

Remember when you were in college, a bit drunk, and you came back from a party, not ready to let that party die? So you pop on the television and find that well … the only thing on is a nature documentary. So you start watching and riffing a bit. Man it is hilarious! Everyone’s cracking jokes. It. Is. So. Funny. Now imagine you recorded that, wouldn’t that be so funny?! Nope. It isn’t. Because you were drunk and everything you said was stupid. You would watch it with shame the next day. Luckily you didn’t record it and everyone can forget about embarrassing themselves trying to be funny while watching some lions have sex. Unlucky for those involved with Strange Wilderness they did record it, and it is the worst. Let’s get into what I remembered before I rewatched this travesty:

  • Jamie HATED this film. With a passion. I remember being somewhat ambivalent to the entire thing. Seemed kind of dumb and boring, but whatever. But throughout the years (over five years now) he has insisted it is one of the worst BMT films we’ve ever watched.
  • There was at least one segment involving a shark where they just dubbed a stupid laugh over it for several minutes.
  • They murder bigfoot in the end, and that is just … kind of the ending to the film.
  • Jonah Hill plays just the most worthless character. He kind of just has a weird voice and is dumb. But something about him made it clear it was just the laziest choices all strung together. His character is grating and kind of epitomizes the terribleness of the entire thing.

The first and last are the most important thing when considering the Hall of Fame. One thing that should be pointed out is this movie was a borderline Hall of Famer in the first place. We almost considered only inducting four movies after being unable to reach a true consensus. Harkening back to when we watched the film originally I recalled the passion with which Jamie insisted this movie was one of the worst things he’d ever seen. And thus we threw a flier out on this borderline case. A movie that just annoys you to no end. Almost inexplicably. A movie that is mostly forgotten, might have a weird cult followed (that cult consisting exclusively of thirteen-year-old boys, I think), but is just dick and sex jokes from scene to scene. We’ve done a number of stoner comedies in our time, so it seems fitting that what is probably the worst of the bunch maybe finds a home in the Hall of Fame.

As far as Jonah Hill’s character is concerned it was nothing against him (per se). It was … more that he represents something kind of special in retrospect. The Three Musketeers is hailed as a landmark movie in BMT history by producing the idea of a Planchet. That character whose sole purpose in the movie it to get ripped on as comic relief. In this case Jonah Hill is almost an anti-Planchet. A guy whose sole purpose to the movie is entirely unknown. Who in every estimation makes the movie worse. Who is so grating and annoying he exposed the seams of the movie and forces you to totally reject everything in the film. It isn’t Jonah Hill’s fault. All of the characters are garbage in their own special way. But the laziness with which the character of Cooker is conceived and executed is just … I do think it might be the worst in BMT history. The Anti-Planchet.

So how did the rewatch go as a whole though? This movie is trash. I have to bust out a little Sklog-cabulary Quiz to explain a bit about how this “plot” is constructed:

Memoryless Markov Plot (n.) – a plot structure comprised of a sequence of events in which the transition from one event to the other is entirely dependent on the current state of the movie without a sense of history or in pursuit of a coherent goal.

This is a quintessential example of such a plot. It is similar to when we describe a movie as being comprised of vignettes instead of actual acts. This is somewhat different in that it kind of describes how the story moves along from one place to another. (1) They need to save their company, so they need a big splash. (2) Their friend comes from out of nowhere with a map to Bigfoot to save the day. (3) They stop on the way to getting the map and their friend is attacked by a shark. (4) They are waiting at the hospital and get into a fight that requires dental surgery. (5) They need money and one guy conveniently steals a bunch of nitrous from the dentist’s office that  they can sell. (6) They instead inhale all of the nitrous before they get to the cabin with the map … like none of the stuff in the middle needed to happen. The only actual consequence of that entire sequence of events is that they have one less person on their crew … that is it! They gained and lost nothing else! And where does it go from there? Obviously, the main character goes into the forest to go to the bathroom and a turkey bites his dick and they go back to the hospital! Obviously … obviously. It is just so insane.

Add to this that the characters are all either the worst people, or like caricatures written by a high school improv troupe. Like the hot girl who just wants the be one of the guys, she’s cool! She lewdly refers to having sex with the guys and dresses ridiculously, and is basically just there to be ogled by Steve Zahn and Allen Covert. “I don’t want to be that downer woman on the trip” written by a man for a woman to speak to the weird stereotypes held by teenagers. Just, kind of gross is all I’m saying.

Overall, I think this ended up being a great example of something like Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star and other second-tier Happy Madison productions. Basically, a starless comedy which is laughless, directionless, and totally devoid of any mature ideas or jokes. I applaud Jamie for recognizing it’s potential at a point in our young bad movie lives where a movie like this might not have stood out for what it is: just the worst example of what a stoner comedy can be. Period. I am proud to have it in the Hall of Fame.

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