With Josh Brolin owning this summer with the releases of Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2 and Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Netflix knew this was the perfect time to quietly put out this indie film. Apparently Netflix bought this film after it was in distribution hell for the past two years so hopefully that doesn’t play into its quality and instead the inability to find a market for it.
Synopsis: Buck Ferguson, famous for hunting whitetail deer, plans a special episode of his hunting show around a bonding weekend with his estranged son, Jaden. With trusted – but hapless – cameraman and friend Don in tow, Buck sets out for what soon becomes an unexpectedly epic adventure of father-son reconnection in the great outdoors. (Netflix)
Starring: Josh Brolin, Danny McBride, and Montana Jordan
Writers: Jody Hill and Danny McBride
Director: Jody Hill
Running Time: 83mins
Director Jody Hill teams up with Danny McBride once again to continue their exploration of toxic masculinity although this time McBride isn’t the star and the story’s setting is in muddy waters. The story follows the great deer hunter Buck Ferguson (Brolin) who has his own successful reality show “Buck Fever.” In a special episode, Buck decides to embark on a weekend of hunting with his estranged son Jaden (Jordan) and his loyal cameraman Don (McBride). The trio hopes to have an epic adventure in the wilderness as they shoot an emotional journey of father-son reconnection.
The premise of this film is a great concept as it looks to be a satirization of gun culture paired with hunting documentaries leading to what one can only assume would be some hilarious antics and over the top gestures. Unfortunately, what comes from this premise is a spineless, rough attempt at a story that stretches its short film length narrative into a feature film. The themes it tries to tackle become muddled in a bland story that loses traction after its intriguing opening sequence. It could have hit some very strong emotional beats that tackle the complicated and estranged relationship between Buck and his son, but it never quite gets there.
In fact this film is tonally all over the place, making it easy to question what the filmmakers were trying to go for. The story could have been a lot darker or satirical to tackle the themes and topical issues it was so clearly putting at the center of its narrative, but instead opted to be a film that waded down a lazy river rather than go head first into the rapids. The film’s saving grace is the layered, conflicted performance by Josh Brolin. He is able to portray a father who forces his own image and ideals onto his son without caring about what is going on in his son’s life. He could have easily felt like a caricature, but Brolin brings enough character to this melancholy macho man. Unfortunately, the film’s other big positive, Danny McBride, is severely underused and most of his comedy feels tonally off with the rest of the story.
Overall, The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter is a comedy that finds itself questioning what kind of comedy it wants to be. While it centers on a phenomenal Josh Brolin performance, the story finds itself lacking any genuine comedy, emotion or a consistent tone making this slow, drawn out look at an estranged relationship one that fires blanks. This film becomes the next in a long line of films Netflix knows are used as background filler while other tasks are worked on.
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