Without a Paddle

Without a Paddle

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Steven Brill
Produced by Donald DeLine
Screenplay by
Story by
Music by Christophe Beck
Cinematography Jonathan Brown
Edited by
  • Debra Neil-Fisher
  • Peck Prior
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • August 20, 2004 (2004-08-20)
Running time
99 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $19 million[2]
Box office $69,631,118[2]

Without a Paddle is a 2004 American comedy film directed by Steven Brill, written by Jay Leggett and Mitch Rouse, and based on a story by Harris Goldberg, Tom Nursall, and Fred Wolf. The film stars Seth Green, Matthew Lillard, and Dax Shepard as three reunited childhood friends going on a trip up a remote river in order to search for the loot of long-lost airplane hijacker D. B. Cooper.

A direct-to-video sequel, entitled Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling, was released in January 2009.


Twelve years after graduating high school, three friends, Jerry, Dan, and Tom, find out that their childhood friend Billy has died in a parasailing accident. After the funeral, they revisit the group's old tree-house and find a map leading to D. B. Cooper's lost treasure, which Billy had apparently been working on his whole life. Dan takes a break from his job as a doctor and joins Jerry and Tom on a camping trip to find the treasure. They take a canoe down the river and eventually stop at the riverside for the night. They discover they forgot to bring food, so Tom goes out to catch some fish. However, the activity attracts a grizzly bear to their position, and it chases the group up in a tree. In the morning, they find all their gear ripped up and completely destroyed by the bear.

The trio takes off in the river, but are unable to read the map and go the wrong way. They fall off a waterfall; while they survive, their canoe is destroyed. They venture into the woods with a compass and find themselves at a pot farm, where the two farmers, Dennis and Elwood, mistake them for thieves and start shooting at them. They escape, burning the pot garden down in the process. This enrages the farmers, who decide to hunt them down and kill them. Later, the trio meets two hippie girls far into the forest, who treat them in their tree. Using a radio, the farmers find them, but the hippie girls drop paper bags full of feces at the farmers to distract them while the guys escape. They are caught by a man living up in the mountains, who takes them up to his hut and provides them with clothes. The man later reveals himself as Del Knox, once Cooper's partner before his death.

The next morning, the farmers find them and assault the house. The guys escape while Del shoots at the two farmers with his revolver. The trio stumbles upon the site of Cooper's crash-landing, where they discover his corpse and the suitcase holding the money, and realize that Cooper burned the money in an attempt to survive. As Dan crawls through a small tunnel to find a way out, the farmers find Jerry and Tom, and a fistfight ensues Eventually, Sheriff Briggs, who had earlier helped the trio, intervenes, but then reveals himself as the farmers' employer. Jerry arms a grenade taken from Dennis and throws it towards the pot dealers. It explodes, causing a tree to fall on the farmers and sheriff. The three are arrested afterwards.

Afterwards, Jerry, Dan, and Tom earn half of the remaining money from Del. Jerry proposes to his girlfriend, Dan starts a relationship with Flower, and Tom is a camp counselor for a children's summer camp, who ends up telling his troop all about the trip.



Although the film details an ill-prepared camping and canoe trip into the Oregon wild, Without a Paddle was filmed in New Zealand to take advantage of tax rebates.


Without a Paddle received negative reviews from critics. Based on 125 reviews collected by the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 14% of 125 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 3.9/10. The site's consensus states: "Without a Paddle has a few laughs, but not enough to sustain its running time."[3]

Despite the film's negative reviews, it was a commercial success, grossing $58,169,327 in North America and $11,461,791 internationally, totaling $69,631,118 worldwide.[2]

See also


  1. "WITHOUT A PADDLE (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. July 27, 2004. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 "Without A Paddle (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  3. "Without A Paddle (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
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