Awfully Good: Meet the Deedles
In this week's column, we honor the late Paul Walker. I considered doing that movie where he was reincarnated as an animatronic dinosaur with Denise Richards, but decided to go with this one.
Meet the Deedles (1998)
Director: Steve Boyum
Stars: Paul Walker, Steve Van Wormer, Dennis Hopper
Two "surf bum" brothers from Hawaii mistakenly become rangers at Yellowstone National Park and must save famous geyser Old Faithful from being stolen by Dennis Hopper and Robert Englund.
To be honest, I had completely forgotten MEET THE DEEDLES existed, let alone that Paul Walker was one of the titular stars. Five minutes in to it, however, I was hit by a serious wave of cinematic nostalgia. Call it a pre-teen guilty pleasure, but I remember loving this exceedingly quotable and equally stupid Disney flick back in 1998. It's "so diculous it's re-diculous."
We just got a job running Healthcare.gov!
Not to be confused with Peter Jackson's perverse puppet film MEET THE FEEBLES, MEET THE DEEDLES is like a surfer version of DUMB AND DUMBER mixed with BILLY MADISON. It follows the grand tradition of 90s live-action Disney movies that scream, "What were they thinking?" A plot that's essentially "surfer high school dropouts become park rangers" seems like an odd choice for a family film, but it's no less bizarre than stuff like OPERATION DUMBO DROP ("Ray Liotta and Danny Glover push elephant out of plane"), BLANK CHECK ("10 year old walks out of bank with a million dollars, no questions asked"), ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD ("Cherubs play baseball to promote child adoption") or JUNGLE 2 JUNGLE ("Tim Allen fathers an aborigine"). And as Paul Walker's first major on-screen role, it starts off his career as the exact sort of pretty boy-surfer "dude" role he was known for. (Though there's definitely more "brah" love in 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS.)
Is that Vin Diesel in his FIND ME GUILTY wig?
Phil and Stew Deedle are twin brothers and lovable idiots who have a penchant for skipping school in favor of catching some righteous waves in their native Hawaii. As the film opens, they're awoken by a group of hot girls in bikinis who kidnap the siblings and take them parasailing instead of going to class. (I'm guessing this event parallels Paul Walker's real life as well.) Then, in something straight out of an 80s teen flick, they're chased on jet ski by a truancy officer who has a personal vendetta against them ("I'll get you Deedles!"). The brothers yell, "No escape, no surrender!" and fall from the sky, drop kicking him in the face. Understandably, they're expelled from school and their rich tycoon father threatens to cut them off from their privileged slacker lifestyle unless they attend Camp Broken Spirit on the [gulp] mainland.
It is Vin Diesel in his FIND ME GUILTY wig!
The Deedles set off for Wyoming with their weird robot beverage cart (?) in tow. Through a series of wacky mishaps involving circus animals, motorized skateboards, Mr. Friendly from "Lost" and the decision to wear women's underwear, the bros end up as ranger trainees at Yellowstone National Park. And they're not mistaken for just any new recruits, but two wildlife experts hired to fix the park's prairie dog infestation in time for Old Faithful's billionth birthday party.
^Yes, someone was paid money to come up with this plot.
They only called him Smokey the Bear because of all the reefer.
The Deedles bumble their way through ranger training, using their surf bum idiot savant skills to somehow overcome every obstacle in their way. They gain the trust and respect of their fellow park managers by building fart bombs (dubbed "Operation Gastro Castro") and rubbing Icy-Hot cream on rodents. They even win over the head ranger after they defy physics and bad CGI to surf white water rapids and save him from drowning. There's also the romantic subplot between Walker and the female ranger, which he declares true love 20 seconds after meeting her. Thus begins one of the most cringe-worthy love stories ever presented on film. The young Walker is tasked with some truly embarrassing romantic speeches and dialogue ("She melts me, dude!" "I totally crave your wave.") and has to do ridiculous things to win her over, such as eating pine cones. And then there's the classic scene where the two lovebirds take a romantic stroll in the wilderness and chow down on live earthworms, reenacting the famous spaghetti scene from LADY AND THE TRAMP with grubs.
Tyrese's mom wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
Oh, and lest I forget the memorable villains of the filmóDennis Hopper's evil ex-ranger and his henchman, played by Freddy Kreuger himself, Robert Englund. Hopper's plan to get revenge on Yellowstone involves releasing hundreds of prairie dogs to tunnel under Old Faithful and steal it. He then plans to move the geyser to a new location and open his own park, thus making him one of the dumbest evil masterminds in cinema history. Hopper's role almost entirely consists of him watching things from an armchair and reading his lines off camera. It's an even worse performance than the one he gives in SUPER MARIO BROS.
Despite the light going off above his head, this movie was not a good idea for Dennis Hopper.
I don't think that anyone would argue that MEET THE DEEDLES isn't a stupid movie, but it does have its memorable qualities. There's lots of quotable and surprisingly adult-themed lines. ("I'd love to put a Deedle in her haystack!" "You better chill horndog before your quest for booty gets us booted!") And it's also enjoyable as a very strange, very random Disney movie that's completely a product of its time. There's the entire prairie dog subplot, bears driving cars, "road beavers," SNL-alum Ana Gasteyer getting attacked by a lion, and Dennis Hopper bring called a "heinous anus" by Paul Walker. Something for everyone!
Somewhere, Paul Walker is enjoying his own personal heaven.
Some great dumb-liners and other Deedle-isms from Paul Walker.
Paul Walker's awkward romantic moments, gopher fart bombs and hula time!
Hottie A.J. Langer takes a hot springs dip in a swimsuit.
Take a shot or drink every time:
- The brothers say something in unison
- Paul Walker calls someone, "Bro"
- Someone screams "Deedles!"
- The title characters wear women's underwear
- Someone points out that "it could be worse"
- A cartoon animal is referenced
- Paul Walker goes fast and furious