Wherein unreasonably free time is dedicated to proving Jonah Hill is funnier than you.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Strange Wilderness

Why I Wanted to See It: I adore Jonah Hill.

Why I Hadn't Seen It: Nobody did.

Why I Just Did: Cinco De Mayo.

Why I'm Glad I Did: Real wildlife footage + fake voiceovers=funny. Jonah Hill and Justin Long take the back seat after Accepted, pulling off the subtle-yet-dumb-type of gags I feared had died with ZAZ. The rest of the cast wasn't bad (Ernest Borgnine! Robert Patrick! Um...the big dude from Beerfest!) either.

Why I Wish I Hadn't: Having a ridiculous plot — a struggling wildlife show tries to capture Bigfoot to save its time slot — is one thing, but keeping the plot chugging along with cheap contrivances is another. Characters randomly get masticated, mauled, manhandled,[1] and murdered in obvious attempts at padding the running time. The framing device used to start the story is extraneous to the point it actually confuses things.

But yet and still I loved it. Strange Wilderness is not a character study; it's an excuse to amuse. When a movie keeps you laughing, why complain that there's no real story? A good comedy need only divert, while classically critical components such as "structure" rarely do anything but distract.

Like the narratology/ludology debate for game scholars, maybe film critics need to switch their standards for this type of film. Otherwise it's too easy to decide, "This is a 'slacker comedy,'" and denounce the genre. I humbly suggest the following metric: because Jonah Hill has more lines in Strange Wilderness than Walk Hard and Horton Hears a Who combined, it is inherently better.

[1] Turkey-handled too.