Escanaba In Da Moonlight – 2001

Director Jeff Daniels
Screenplay Jeff Daniels, Guy Sanville
Starring Jeff Daniels, Harve Presnell, Joey Albright, Wayne David Parker, Kimberly Norris Guerrero

In a family full of hunters, I am the one male who’s never shot a buck, much less one a year. Several of my sisters have done this as well. One would figure that I would be the ideal audience for the first directing effort of Jeff Daniels.The film is about Reuben Soady (Daniels), a seemingly jinxed member of the Soady family who is attending opening day with his family at the deer camp. His wife is a better hunter than he is, but he resists her invitation to represent.

When he gets to deer camp, he is met by his father Albert (Presnell), his brother Remnar (Albright) and a friend who walks through the film carrying a load in his long johns.

Reuben convinces his hunting partners to break with tradition and perform a few rituals that his wife recommended. Afterwards, some strange things happen.

Some of this is supposed to be funny, even less is supposed to be profound. It’s the kind of story that incorporates local culture (called “Yooper” in this case) and slapstick humor to give the impression we’re seeing stuff that should be funny if you’d only grown up there. 

Bob and Doug McKenzie did the same thing regarding the Great White North of Canada in Strange Brew. The main difference with that film and this is that Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas had honed the act through years of performances on Second City.  This one had none of those honing opportunities.

The result is likable, but not necessarily funny or essential. Jeff Daniels is always worth sticking it out, if you bother starting this. Otherwise, its for fart joke completists, only.

(** out of *****)

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