"Strange Wilderness" is a good-natured, frequently hilarious takeoff on all those nature documentaries that play on the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, and whose pedigree stretches all the way back to the granddaddy of them all, "Mutual of Omaha`s Wild Kingdom." Peter and Fred are the producers of a wildlife series entitled "Strange Wilderness" that has been foundering in the ratings ever since Peter's father, a Steve Irwin-type naturist and the original host of the show, passed away, leaving his less-than-stellar son to carry on his legacy. The sheer scientific illiteracy of much of the commentary that Peter provides for his footage probably hasn't helped matters much in this regard. Now faced with the prospect of series cancellation, Peter and his crew of incompetent dweebs head off to the wilds of South America to file an exclusive report on the famed Bigfoot who has recently been spotted there.
Though adolescent in the extreme, "Strange Wilderness" turns out to be a zany, endearingly random and unflaggingly energetic little comedy whose likable cast is obviously dialed into what the moviemakers are trying to do here. Steve Zahn, Allen Covert, Covert, Ernest Borgnine, Jeff Garlin, Kevin Heffernan, Justin Long and Harry Hamlin seem to be having the time of their lives here and their enjoyment rubs off on us as well.
Is it dumb? Of course it is. Is it lowbrow, inane and hopelessly juvenile? You betcha'. But unlike so many other films that fall into those categories, "Strange Wilderness" has a shrewd mind for parody and a liveliness of spirit that actually make the movie funny. Credit scenarist Peter Gaulke and co-author/director Fred Wolf (who first developed this concept as sketches on "Saturday Night Live") for some excellent joke-writing and pacing and for their willingness to pull out all the stops in their effort to get the laugh. In fact, the crew's ill-fated encounter with Bigfoot is alone worth the price of admission.