When Nature Calls
aka The Outdoorsters
Directed by Charles Kaufman
Written by Charles Kaufman and Stan Weisman
“How many people remember that Eleanor Roosevelt had great tits?”
Seven years after Kentucky Fried Movie, a different group of filmmakers decided to basically do the same thing: a theatrical experience that was a parody of the entire theater going experience. You get fake trailers, fake theater announcements, fake concession stand ads (here’s a hotdog doing another hotdog doggy style! brilliant!) and a feature presentation that makes mockery of a big hit.
It doesn’t help us much now that the object of the film’s scorn, the series of Wilderness Family movies in the late 70’s, are pretty much forgotten now. Those were a series of film where the dad took everyone out into the woods where they were much happier without the technology. And, you know, other people.
They use most of the film’s run time to skewer this, but rather than settle for a simple parody, they mixed their approach with the Airplane gag-a-minute philosophy, and while there are a lot (a lot) of misses, it still works out since the people in front of the camera seem to be having such a good time.
I mentioned above the three fake trailers, which get better as they go along. Gena’s Song, a mockery of independent women’s pictures, gets saddled with a weird gag with a blind man trying to explain the action which causes more confusion than humor. Raging Asshole is pretty broad, though the film achieves something akin to the look of Scorcese’s movie.
The feature itself is pretty hit or miss. The movie dawdles quite a bit to get it to feature length, and there’s one long sequence in a grocery store that just drags. Things pick up when the family reaches the woods (they leave their car with the attendant) and nature seems to be just as messed up as civilization was.
In fact, the movie ends with the family deciding to move back to civilization after civilization threatens to move to the woods. The ‘back to nature’ impulse that Hollywood idealizes is an anti-social desire and might be, as the movie shows, a rather subtle form of racism.
This is a film released by Troma, but even it’s ‘controversial’ stuff is such silly material that it’s still easy to digest. Sure we may have the outside of a crib while two babies are going at it, or we may get a bit of POV from a bear as he and the daughter Bambi consummate their love, but this is probably the most tame bear-on-girl sex you will ever see.
There are other briefly funny segments. G. Gordon Liddy, ringleader behind Watergate, pops in for a commercial break where he promotes a charity to help those who act like Jerry Lewis. Morey Amsterdam, one of those vaudevillians, keeps popping up, telling bad jokes while an interviewer begs him to talk about the film on hand.
It wears its low budget on its arm, and it’s a mixture of cheese, dumb gags, and early 1980’s humor. Only one mystery about the film endures: does David Strathairn admit to making this? I’d be kind of sad if he didn’t.
Rating: 6/10 (More Morely, died in Vietnam, Hot Doggy style, before he was a star,
elephants love this stuff, Picard would jerk it to this)
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This one is available for free and in full over on YouTube.