Nature Calls Dir. Todd Rohal

[Magnet Releasing; 2012]

Styles: Comedy
Others: Klown, Role Models

Nature Calls centers on Randy (Patton Oswalt) and Kirk (Johnny Knoxville), two brothers living in what appears to be suburban Ohio. Kirk is a businessman living in a McMansion, and Randy is a diehard Boy Scout who resides with his catatonic troop-leader father. Randy, seeking to carry on the family tradition and noting that interest in scouting has waned in recent times, decides to kidnap a group of young boys from a slumber party at Kirk’s house and run them off into the woods to teach them the ways of the outdoorsman. Kirk and pals give chase, and we have a movie.

If this seems like a thin premise, it is, and there is unfortunately not much in the way of comedy to bolster it. Almost every joke in the film is tired and poorly executed — and everyone involved seems to know it. The late Patrice O’Neal gets a few amusing lines in, but his character seems oddly shoehorned into the film even though he doesn’t get all that much screen time.

Nature Calls falls back again and again on the fervent hope that audiences across America will still find foul-mouthed eight-year-olds to be extremely hilarious. The acting and directing shuffle between manic and sleepy-eyed, and there is some unapologetic homophobia and sexism to make sure everyone leaves the theatre (or, perhaps more accurately, the movie-on-demand screening area) with a bad taste in their mouth.

For all that, though, I’m almost tempted to think that there is a funny movie somewhere in here, and that it was left on the cutting-room floor. Some of the dialogue is so stilted, and some of the scenes so herky-jerky and bewildering, that it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that they could speak to a somewhat amusing script that got badly off-track during the filming process. Of course, that is wild conjecture on my part. It doesn’t change anything about the final cut, which disappoints on almost every level.

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