Without a Paddle is a 2004 American adventure comedy film directed by Steven Brill, written by Jay Leggett and Mitch Rouse, and based on a story by Harris Goldberg, Tom Nursall, and Fred Wolf. The film stars Seth Green, Matthew Lillard, Dax Shepard, Ethan Suplee, Abraham Benrubi, Rachel Blanchard, Christina Moore, Bonnie Somerville, Ray Baker and Burt Reynolds. It tells the story of three reunited childhood friends going on a trip up a remote river in order to search for the loot of long-lost airplane hijacker D. B. Cooper.

Without a Paddle
Three men standing in a boat, the water level is half way up their faces
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySteven Brill
Screenplay by
Story by
Produced byDonald De Line
CinematographyJonathan Brown
Edited by
  • Debra Neil-Fisher
  • Peck Prior
Music byChristophe Beck
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • August 20, 2004 (2004-08-20)
Running time
99 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$19 million[2]
Box office$73 million[2]

A direct-to-video sequel, entitled Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling, was released in January 2009.

Plot edit

12 years after graduating from high school, three friends, Jerry, Dan, and Tom, learn that their childhood friend Billy has died in a parasailing accident. After the funeral, they revisit the group's old tree-house and find a map leading to D. B. Cooper's lost treasure, which Billy had apparently been working on for his entire life. Dan takes annual leave from his job as a doctor and joins Jerry and Tom on a camping trip to find the treasure.

Canoeing down the river, they eventually stop on the riverbank for the night. They realize that they forgot to bring food, so Tom goes out to catch some fish. However, the activity attracts a grizzly bear which chases them. When Dan falls, the bear seemingly treats him like a cub until he breaks free, following the others up a tree. In the morning, they find all of their gear has been ripped up and completely destroyed by the bear.

The trio take off into the river but are unable to read the damaged map, causing them to go the wrong way. They go over a waterfall, and although they survive, their canoe is destroyed. Venturing into the woods with a compass, they find themselves at a pot farm where rednecks Dennis and Elwood, mistake them for thieves and start shooting at them. They escape, burning the pot garden down in the process. This enrages Dennis and Elwood, who decide to hunt them down and kill them.

Later, far into the forest, the trio meet hippie girls Flower and Butterfly, who treat them in their tree. Using a radio the farmers find them, but the women drop paper bags full of feces at the farmers to distract them while the trio escape. They are saved from the thunderstorm by a mountain man who takes them to his hut and provides them with clothes. He later reveals himself to be Del Knox, Cooper's partner before his death.

The next morning, the farmers find them, shooting the hut. The trio escape while Del distracts the farmers by shooting at the two with his dual wield revolvers. The trio stumbles upon the site of Cooper's crash-landing, discovering his skeleton and the suitcase he used to hold the ransom money down an old mine shaft. They realize he burned his share of the money attempting to survive.

As Dan crawls through a small tunnel to find a way out, the farmers find Tom and Jerry, and a fistfight ensues. Eventually, Sheriff Briggs, who had earlier helped the trio, intervenes. He then reveals himself to be the farmers' employer. Jerry arms a grenade taken from Dennis and throws it at the pot dealers. It explodes, causing a tree to fall on the farmers and the sheriff, who are soon arrested.

In the closing scenes, Del gives Tom, Jerry and Dan what's left of D.B's non burnt money ($100,000) but Jerry and Dan decide Tom needs it more than they do, so they let Tom keep it, while Del gives D.B. a proper funeral. Jerry proposes to his girlfriend Denise, Dan starts a relationship with Flower, and Tom becomes a camp counselor for a children's summer camp where he tells his troop an exaggerated version of the trip.

Cast edit

Reception edit

Box office edit

Without a Paddle ranked second in its opening weekend behind fellow newcomer Exorcist: The Beginning, earning $13,528,946. It ultimately grossed $58,169,327 in North America and $14,859,863 internationally for a worldwide total of $73,029,190.[2]

Critical response edit

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 14% based on 126 reviews, with an average rating of 3.9/10. The website's cercus consensus reads: "Without a Paddle has a few laughs, but not enough to sustain its running time."[3] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 29 out of 100 based on 27 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[4] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[5]

Dennis Harvey of Variety called it: "An unstable—if mostly painless—mix of low comedy, stabs at higher silliness, and schmaltz."[6]

Entertainment Weekly's Scott Brown was more positive and wrote: "There are some genuinely clever moments of physical comedy, and the inevitable crudeness is offset by winning whimsy. Without has all the freshness of moldering Playboys stashed under a mattress, but it evokes what few boys-will-be-boys larks can: chumminess."[7]

Sequel edit

A sequel to the film, titled Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling, was released direct-to-video on January 13, 2009. None of the cast and crew from the first film returned.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Without A Paddle (12)". British Board of Film Classification. July 27, 2004. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Without A Paddle (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  3. ^ "Without A Paddle (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 1, 2020.
  4. ^ "Without a Paddle". Metacritic. Retrieved February 1, 2020.
  5. ^ "Without a Paddle (2004) B+". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  6. ^ Harvey, Dennis (August 15, 2004). "Without a Paddle". Variety.
  7. ^ Brown, Scott (August 25, 2004). "Without a Paddle". Entertainment Weekly.

External links edit