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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Paramount - 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 90 Minutes
Genre: Comedy

Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese
Starring: Oliver James, Kristopher Turner, Rik Young, Jerry Rice, Madison Riley, Amber McDonald
Directed by: Ellory Elkayem
Music by: Thomas Chase Jones
Written by: Jay Leggett & Mitch Rouse
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 13, 2009

"Three guys. One chance. No plan"

Film Synopsis:

If you thought the first trip was wilde, get ready for the craziest adventure yet! Everything that can go wrong does go wrong when two best friends (Oliver James & Kristopher Turner) and one zany Brit (Rik Young) venture out into the wilderness in search of a high school sweetheart. It's the wettest, wildest, and most squirrelphobic road trip since Lewis & Clark! On this trip, the stakes are higher, the river is wilder and the creatures are nuttier!

My Take:

I didn't see the first Without a paddle movie so unfortunately I have no basis for comparing which was better so I won't try.Without a paddle: nature's calling isn't a sequel in the sense that it is a continuation of the first film but it follows a similar premise. It is a good hearted film about two guys who have been friends since high school. During freshman year Ben was smitten by a cute girl named Heather who was a bucking animal activist that got permanently suspended for trying to prevent the dissection of animals in school. Fast forward twelve years and Ben and Zach have fallen out of touch. Ben is an overworked associate at a law firm and Zach works as a nurse at a senior citizens home. One of the elderly women that Zach looks after is only given a short time to live and he agrees, at her request, to try and locate her granddaughter (and heir) who she wants to see before she passes. Additionally her granddaughter's stepbrother Nigel has arrived and has offered to help locate her. It turns out that her granddaughter is the same girl (Heather) that Ben had a crush on (and apparently never got over) from high school. Zach figures that this is a great way for himself and Ben to re-connect and after calling him Ben agrees to go along in the hopes of hooking up with Heather. The problem is that Heather is now called Earth Child and is an eco enthusiast that vanished into the woods along with her friend Thunderstorm some time ago and according to the local townsfolk was probably killed by the mysterious creature that lives in those woods. Ben, Zach, and Nigel head off into the wooded wilderness to find them and ultimately more than they bargained for.

This straight to video comedy doesn't offer any truly funny moments but it is a pleasant enough film that features light but unoriginal comedic elements that occasionally elicit a chuckle. The cast is made up of relative unknowns who seem to do a decent job with what they were given to work with. I do have to question Jerry Rice's presence because he is certainly no actor and it was quite obvious even in the brief scene he was in. The story was rather trite and the pacing left it dragging a bit in the second act. It felt like a made for TV movie that would be enjoyed more by pre-teens than older teenagers and adults.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for crude sexual humor and language. There was one scene that could be construed as crude but it wasn't to an egregious level.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 74

  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:

Video: 84

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

Without a paddle: Nature Calling comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 3.6 mbps.

This video presentation seemed apropos for the source material and boasted vibrant, eye catching colors, natural complexions and punchy contrast. The sequences shot in the woods looked great with lush, vivid foliage, delineated sepia toned forests and revealing shadow detail that benefited from high definition's superior resolution. Images were resolute with above average clarity and discernible fine detail that appeared better defined during close ups than long range shots. The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack rendered the elements present in the recording with clear distinction that was mainly reproduced by the front three channels. The surrounds were used sparingly to convey subtle background detail and some directional effects during the tree house assault in the finale. This scene also featured the only use of low frequency detail in the movie but the effect was good enough to provide a tangible rumble through my subwoofer. While this isn't that type of soundtrack that really benefits from a lossless audio encoding I appreciate the fact that Paramount consistently supports them on their Blu-ray Disc releases.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) Up the creek: 10 minute making of Without a paddle: nature calling

  • (HD) Furious nuts - 7 minute Featurette on the CGI squirrels featured in the film

  • (HD) Tree house tales - 3 minute featurette on the various tree house sets featured in the film

  • Gag reel

  • 4 Deleted scenes

Final Thoughts:

Without a paddle: nature calling is a mildly entertaining comedy that has an unoriginal story but likeable characters. It feels like a movie geared more toward younger audiences that might be okay as a rental during a sleep over or party. Its high definition debut from Paramount Blu-ray features good overall quality and average bonus supplements.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

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