Hollywood just doesn’t try very hard when it comes to depicting hunting and fishing. That’s really the only way you can explain how they get it so wrong, so consistently. From roaring sharks to fishing hooks from watch parts, movies have often ventured well past ridiculous. We’ve got a list a mile long of such misses, and our fearless leader Steven Rinella already dissected some of them for GQ’s The Breakdown. From Wedding Crashers to Hunt for the Wilderpeople, he skewered the best. We figured it was time to add to the list.
The 1997 film “The Edge” is a laughably unrealistic tale of wilderness survival. Through a series of unfortunate (but extremely predictable events), the film’s two male leads, Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin, engage in one over-the-top survival trope after another while they’re stranded in the Alaskan wilderness. The pair fight off hunger, the elements, and each other. And oh yeah, all of this while a sadistic man-eating brown bear hunts them. It’s not so much that “The Edge” gets any one thing wrong— it gets everything wrong.
The movie’s attempt to tell a serious story becomes a testosterone-soaked parody of the entire wilderness survival genre. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, take solace in the fact that without any previous wilderness experience, these two city slickers managed to fashion a magnetic compass out of a needle, make fishing hooks out of watch parts, kill a 1000-pound brown bear with fire-hardened spears, make a warm-ass coat of the dead bruin’s hide, navigate their way to safety, and generally kick Mother Nature’s ass. -Brody Henderson
“Joe Versus The Volcano”
Believe it or not, young people, there was a period in history when Tom Hanks was funny and Meg Ryan was relevant. During this by-gone era, the duo starred in “Joe Versus The Volcano,” a comedy mostly about a sad man searching for a remote tribe that only drinks orange soda. At one point in this kinda-sorta cult classic, Hanks and Ryan spend an afternoon fishing on the sailboat taking them to the island of Waponi Woo. The boat doesn’t slow down a knot, so I guess we can call it high-speed trolling, and Ryan wastes no time shaming Hanks, pulling in fish after fish on a shallow diving plug while he blanks. Hypothetically, such tactics could produce fast-moving pelagic species like king mackerel, bonito, or even wahoo. What Ryan’s reeling in, though, are weird, deep-dwelling reef species like snappers and scorpion fish.
But you know what? I can forgive that. What I can’t forgive is the 300-plus-pound hammerhead Hanks ends up catching to close out the scene. Let’s not even comment on how underpowered his tackle would be for this task, nor the odds that even if a hammerhead ate his tiny lure, the hooks would have stayed glued as he fought it against a moving boat.
Where the film really lost all credibility for me is when he somehow reels the shark right to the rod tip and it roars at him. Roars for God’s sake! Then it bends its eyes inward to give Hanks a cold, hard stare. You wanna know why nobody remembers you, “Joe Versus The Volcano?” Why you’re not held in the same regard as “Big” or “Apollo 13?” Because sharks don’t roar. -Joe Cermele
“My Cousin Vinny”
Outside of Goodfellas, I’d argue that “My Cousin Vinny” is Joe Pesci’s best performance as an actor. The movie isn’t particularly well written or overflowing with on-screen brilliance, but Pesci’s run as a fish-out-of-water New York lawyer is at times hilarious. I mean, come on, you had to laugh at “magic grits” and “two yutes.” Pesci’s cocky gold chain wearing wise guy, and his brassy, streetwise girlfriend, played by Marisa Tomei, are just about the only reasons to sit through this movie. That said, the writers weren’t afraid to spread the city-folks-in-the-country banter on real thick.
Nearing the end of the flick it gets embarrassingly predictable. One such scene pits Vinny against his girlfriend in an argument about hunting “a sweet, innocent, harmless, leaf-eating, doe-eyed little deer.” Vinny’s down to go shoot a whitetail just to get in with the local district attorney, while Tomei’s character paints hunting as an innocence-shattering murder scene in which “a fucking bullet” does the killing. If you’re thinking, “this guy just doesn’t get the joke,” I do, it’s just not that funny.
Let’s see if we can nail down the usual hunter stereotype presented here (hint: it won’t be hard). Hunting as an expression of manly bravado…check. Southern white rednecks as trophy hunters with “stuffed” deer heads…check. Urban New Yorkers completely clueless about what pants to wear…check. The only thing that would have been worse? Actually watching Vinny wield a rifle. -Ben O’Brien