Currently playing on VOD
Director: Todd Rohal
MPAA Rating: R
Film Pulse Score: 2.5/10
When I first read about the new Patton Oswalt comedy Nature Calls, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, I was pretty excited. Oswalt is a great comedic actor, being the best part of Young Adult, and I’m a big fan of, um, Big Fan. Unfortunately, this film turned out to be a huge misstep for everyone involved, and resulted in a colossal failure on all levels.
Oswalt plays Randy, a dopey, scouting obsessed manchild, who steals a bunch of kids from his brother’s house during a sleepover. The brother, Kirk, played by Johnny Knoxville, is the polar opposite of Randy, and disapproves of scouting. What proceeds is a crazy adventure that will touch the hearts of everyone and change their lives forever.
As you might expect, plot-wise this film is fairly standard. Imagine ANY story involving foulmouthed children and their unlikely guardian and this is the exact same in every way. The script is a bland pile of nothingness that garners zero laughs, and the story is so predictable you can probably turn the movie off ten minutes in and outline the entire arch with uncanny precision. This is The Sitter, Bad News Bears, and School of Rock, only take out the humor and make all the characters be completely uninspired and horrible.
On a performance level, there is nothing to highlight since no one did anything in this movie worth mentioning. The only laugh I got from a character was actually from the bit role Darrell Hammond played as a park ranger. The rest of them were so underdeveloped and clichéd that it just didn’t matter who was on screen, or what they were saying or doing.
That brings us to the comedy portion of this review. I enjoy having a laugh when I watch a movie, and I find that I’m more lenient on comedies, especially when their main purpose is to evoke laughter. In the case of Nature Calls however, I didn’t laugh. Not even once. The comedy in this film is so surface level that you’ll be blown away at how rudimentary it truly is. It’s rare that I’ll watch a movie and find that the jokes actually make me bored. Yes, the movie itself is a bore too, but the actual act of the actors speaking the lines made me want to take a nap. Are you a fan of gross-out comedy? Well, there’s nothing here for you. How about some dry humor? No dice. Maybe you’re thinking this is a less French new wavy version of Moonrise Kingdom? Sorry, no it’s not that either.
It’s what we call a manila folder, however to call it a folder of any kind would imply that there could be the possibility of it having something in it’s contents. So taking that into consideration, a more accurate term for this movie would probably be something like the dried up husk of a straight to VHS 80s comedy that never gained enough interest to warrant a DVD conversion. This film is destined to be lost forever in the sea of mediocrity that influenced it.