Released by: Magnoila Films
Released on: January 22, 2013.
Director: Todd Rohal
Cast: Patton Oswalt, Johnny Knoxville, Rob Riggle, Darrell Hammond, Patrice O'Neill
Year: 2012 Purchase From Amazon
Written and directed by Todd Rohal, 2012’s Nature Calls didn’t last long in theaters but finds new life on DVD and Blu-ray thanks to a release from Magnolia Films. The story revolves around a man named Randy (Patton Oswalt) who, like his aging father before him, has dedicated his life to scouting. He, along with assistant Scoutmasters Little Eddie (Eddie Rouse) and Ivan (Ivan Dimitrov), struggle to keep their dwindling troop alive while Randy’s brother, Kirk (Johnny Knoxville) swore of scouting years ago. Instead, Kirk makes a great living running a company that installs ATMs in strange locations like funeral homes where exorbitant service fees can be charged. Kirk is married to a kindly woman named Janine (Maura Tierny) and together they’ve adopted an African boy named Dwande (Thiecoura Cissoko).
In celebration of Dwande’s first full year in America, Kirk insists on throwing him a ridiculous party, which just so happens to fall on the same weekend as the camping trip Randy has planned. As most of the scouts in what’s left of Randy’s troop are going to be attending the party, it looks like he’s going to have to call the trip off, until he realizes that this is very likely the last camping trip he’ll ever get to go on with his aged, wheelchair-bound father. So Randy does what any sane person would do, he shows up at Kirk’s house and kidnaps the kids after talking them into coming with him. They show up in the park where they’re promptly scolded for peeing in the woods by a creepy park ranger (Darrell Hammond) and then, the next morning, Kirk and Janine realize the kids are missing. With their mothers soon to arrive to pick them up, Kirk gets his head of security, Gentry (Rob Riggle), and an father who is annoyed at Randy, Caldwell (Patrice O’Neill), to accompany him into the woods to get the kids back in time. Insanity ensues.
This one really is just all over the place. Most of the time it plays off as a crass, go for the gross style adult comedy without any intention of trying to deliver any sort of moral or message, which would be fine except that then, more or less out of nowhere, it’ll bombard us with corny and predictable bits where it seems to want to do nothing but delivery a moral or a message. Is the point to see Knoxville get burned and tied to a cross by a bunch of semi-crazed boy scouts fired up by the sight of a naked lady on a motorcycle or is the point to pontificate on the importance of brotherly love and commitment to one’s father? Is it both? Maybe it’s both, but because it takes on both, it winds up doing neither particularly well.
There are moments here that are funny – Patrice O’Neill’s character winds up in a predicament when Randy tells his son, a scout, that his father has died when all he did was go out for the day. Of course his kids are freaked out when he gets home and insist on shooting him in the eye with a pellet gun. The one kid who doesn’t go camping and gets left behind with Janine insist on trying to seduce her, and this is occasionally amusing as are the scenes where O’Neill and Riggles get coerced into attending a bizarre swingers party lorded over by Hammond’s creepy park ranger.
Most of the movie, however, is just a series of seemingly random sight gags strung together by a very thin plot. There’s a funny story to be told here and there are moments where Nature Calls approaches that story, but shortly after it does, the script veers wildly into a completely different direction making for one of the most amazingly inconsistent comedies in some time. This one doesn’t even come close to living up to its potential.
Nature Calls looks okay in 2.35.1 widescreen presented on Blu-ray in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. The picture was shot on high definition video so there nothing in the way of print damage or anything like that. The image is noticeably softer than you’d expect from a recent HD production, however, so we don’t get the really impressive detail we’d want out of a brand new transfer of a very modern film. Color reproduction looks good and black levels are all okay but overall this is a fairly flat and unremarkable image.
The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, which comes with optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles, sounds fine. Some rear channel activity helps to bring some of the chaos in the later part of the movie to life while dialogue stays clean and clear. No problems with hiss or distortion or any issues with balanced levels. Not demo material by a long shot but perfectly fine.
Extras are slim, starting with a five minute piece called Nature Calls: Behind the Scenes in which director Todd Rohal talks about what inspired him to make the movie and the core cast members discuss what they liked about the script and the project. Three minutes of Outtakes are found here and are pretty unremarkable while the four and a half minute long AXS TV: A Look At Nature Calls is a brief, talking head style promotional short made to advertise the film. The movie’s theatrical trailer and trailers for a few other unrelated Magnolia Films properties are included and the disc features animated menus and chapter stops as well. All of the supplements on the disc are presented in high definition.
The Final Word:
Nature Calls has a few funny moments here and there but for the most part, despite some genuinely funny guys in the cast, it’s not particularly good. Magnolia’s Blu-ray is alright, offering up a fairly soft transfer that is probably pretty true to the source material and good audio, but the extras are slim and don’t add much to the package overall. Diehard Patton Oswalt and Johnny Knoxville fans might need to see this, but unless you fall into that core group…
Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!