Nature Calls

SXSW 2012 film review

Nature Calls

Director & Screenwriter Todd Rohal
Polar-opposite brothers Randy (Oswalt) and Kirk (Knoxville) never saw eye-to-eye, but their rivalry is taken to a new level when Randy hijacks Kirk’s son’s sleepover, taking the boys on a Scout Trip to remember.
Cast: Patton Oswalt, Johnny Knoxville, Rob Riggle, Maura Tierney, Patrice O’Neal, Darrell Hammond
(World Premiere)

Film Synopsis (from SXSW.com)

WHO’S IT FOR? If you love the comedy that comes from an angry Rob Riggle or an ignorant Johnny Knoxville, this could give you some belly laughs, but not me. There is no sense of mainstream comedy coming from Nature Calls.

OVERALL

Have you ever been desperate to feel like the smartest person in the room? Nature Calls is filled with idiots and gives you the opportunity to feel superior to others. That’s not a compliment.

At the very beginning of the film there is just a hint of a serious tone, with Oswalt playing a Boy Scout leader giving bad news to a cute little kid. After that, seriousness, intelligence and purpose are thrown out the window with the hopes of replacing it with laughter. After all, you can imagine two brothers who have completely different views about Boy Scouts could be funny. This is angry and stupid. The film is filled with overreactions that are meant to be funny. No one does this more often than Riggle. He plays Kirk’s head of security. When looking for clues, he breaks every vase. When speaking, he repeats everything everyone else says and adds some f-bombs. The problem is that Nature Calls isn’t funny enough to be considered a farce. The comedy is mean-spirited and I just kept feeling bad for Oswalt to be given next to nothing to do. Randy is the leader. He cares about what the boy scouts stand for, yet he also breaks rules and allows insanely foul language to happen around the kids. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make me laugh.

O’Neal is thrown into the mix as one of the parents trying to stop Randy from being around kids. At one point he drops a line of, “That’s some unnecessary sh*t you just said.” It got a really big laugh and I think/hope part of the reason is because the audience realized this whole film is filled with unnecessary sh*t. There is tons of room for comedy about the great outdoors vs. watching TV. There are only a few moments that actually focus on that. The kids feel like they were given light direction and are constantly looking at each other trying to figure out how to act in each individual scene.

The crazy parts of Nature Calls really take off with a bonfire that goes out of control. There is death, burn victims and more oddity from beyond that. The absurdist comedy doesn’t work because they feel there is some truth to this film. They want reality somewhere in the picture, almost like you might know some of these people in your own life. For your sake, I hope not. The mean spirit of Nature Calls is best forgotten.

FINAL SCORE: 3/10

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