On paper, the movie Nature Calls sounds utterly amazing. First off you have this wacky plot centered around a renegade Cub Scout leader who hijacks his nephew’s sleepover party in a bid to teach the kids about the great outdoors. Then you have this pretty notable cast consisting of Patton Oswalt, Johnny Knoxville, Patrice O’Neal, Darrell Hammond, and Kelly Coffield Park. It sounds like the most amazing film in the world, right?! WRONG.
It’s not just the film’s poor taste in jokes that make this film so bad. Sure, Johnny Knoxville strapped to a cross may force a few people to walk out, but honestly we’ve seen stranger things from Mr. Knoxville. The main fault in the film lies in the fact that although many of the film’s talent actually has the ability to act, they seemed to have willfully put forth some of the worst performances of their careers.
Sure it’s fun to sometimes ham it up and make a film that pokes fun at itself (this is one of the reasons I loved The Cabin in the Woods so much!), but when this sort of self-effacing style of filmmaking isn’t done with the right amount of skillful precision, it can cause a project to collapse back upon its whole foundation, and that’s exactly what happened with Todd Rohal’s picture.
The only two characters that seemed to work in the film were the quirky swinger park ranger (Darrell Hammond), and the father of one of the Cub Scout boys (played by the late Patrice O’Neal). Unfortunately for everyone though, these guys only had about 10 minutes of screentime between them. Honestly I would have rather sat through a 110-min. improvised found-footage film with those two, but alas I was never given the opportunity.
When I walked into the world premiere of Nature Calls, I made a quip to one of my line neighbors about how it would be hilarious should we actually sit down to find ourselves in a surprise screening of the similarly named Ace Ventura film. Little did I know, that just 45 minutes later I would be begging the film gods to have made that a reality. I can’t imagine this film will ever get playtime at the multiplexes, but I can bet it will for sure be playing its cruel deceitful joke on legions of Netflix users for years to come.