starring Matthew Lillard, Seth Green, Dax Shepard, Burt Reynolds
screenplay by Jay Leggett & Mitch Rouse
directed by Steven Brill
by Walter Chaw Steven Brill's Without a Paddle is relentless and brutal--like Alanis Morrissette's version of Cole Porter's "Let's Do It," the torment of it just never ends. Weathered CIA spooks would spill their mother's social security numbers after five minutes of enduring this kind of torture. It's not fair, really--normal people aren't equipped to withstand a cross between The Goonies, Bushwhacked, Deliverance, Surviving the Game, The Great Outdoors, The Pursuit of D. B. Cooper, American Pie, Southern Comfort, Swiss Family Robinson, and The Big Chill that borrows the cell phone gag from Jurassic Park III and even a little something from, I kid you not, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. It is, in other words, a gross-out slapstick comedy set in the wilderness that is unkind to Appalachians while making a play for cuddly sentimentality despite more than a few moments that are needlessly graphic or just plain grotesque. Blame the brain trust of actors-turned-screenwriters Jay Leggett and Mitch Rouse--or, better yet, blame director Steven Brill, a Sandler crony who proves that sad nepotism does not a director make.