Making the Grades
Tom, Jerry, Dan, and Billy were best friends back in the good 'ol days of the early eighties. Sharing blood oaths and outfitting a tree house with Indiana Jones and Mr. T. posters, the tiny fraternity was particularly obsessed with the legend of skyjacker D.B. Cooper, who mysteriously disappeared in 1972 with $200,000 cash after jumping out of a 727.
A couple decades later, reality has tarnished the shine of their boyhood fantasies. However, the accidental death of the adventure-seeking Billy (Antony Starr) provides the remaining three friends with an opportunity to see each other again after a long absence. Now a successful but neurotic physician, the ever-timid Dan (Seth Green) meets up with Jerry (Matthew Lillard)-a burnt-out business tycoon; and Tom (Dax Shepard)-a motorcycle-riding drifter.
Climbing into the tree house to revisit their past, the chums open the treasure box where they put their most valuable belongings. Inside they discover Billy had continued to collect information about the whereabouts of Cooper. The deceased pal's maps and research add new fuel to their childhood dream of finding the elusive criminal's stash up in the hills.
Their trip into the deeps woods of Oregon gets off to a wet start when the trio literally takes the plunge down a whitewater river in a canoe. Groping through the forest, they run into a bear, are chased by a couple of shotgun toting pot-growing hillbillies (and accidentally burn down their crop), and are welcomed into the tree top paradise of a pair of nature-loving girls.
Due to various reasons related to all three of these meetings, the guys end up stripped down to their shorts in the middle of a stormy night. Seeing no choice but to curl up together and maintain body heat, they seek refuge in a cave, hoping to remain hidden from the marijuana farmers who are out to kill them.
Merging the buddy and road trip movie genres, Without a Paddle pays a PG-13 homage to 1972's R-rated Deliverance-including casting Burt Reynolds as a secluded mountain man. While the sexual content doesn't reach the level of the infamous sodomy scene in the older film, sexual banter and situations still abound. So do jokes commenting on the situation of three near-naked men lost together in the woods.
Admittedly, this film holds the occasional humorous moment, and the characters make positive changes to their lives as a result of their experiences. Yet with a wide variety of profanities (including a single use of the sexual expletive), comic depiction of drug intoxication, as well as slapstick portrayals of gun fights, grenades and physical conflict, most parents are likely to find the watered-down moral messages don't warrant a trip up this river.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Without A Paddle.
Although this film is a work of fiction, the legend of D.B. Cooper is true. After skyjacking a plane in 1972 between Portland and Seattle, Cooper demanded four parachutes and $200,000. Somewhere between the two cities, he jumped from the rear door of the 727 with cash in hand, and disappeared. To this day, no firm evidence has ever been found to determine his location or possible death, making it the only unsolved domestic air criminal case. For more information on the incident, check this link: http://www.super70s.com/Super70s/News/1971/November/24-DB_Cooper.a