The uneven comedy “Nature Calls” stars Patton Oswalt as an over-enthusiastic Scouting leader struggling to keep his troop together even as most of his charges would rather stay indoors with their computers, phones and TVs.
Rob Riggle, Johnny Knoxville and Patrice O’Neal (who died after the production finished) all play grown-ups who have also lost sight of the bigger-picture values of Scouting, chasing after the troop when they go on an unauthorized camping trip. Not surprisingly, the men all learn lessons in maturity along the way.
Writer-director Todd Rohal – whose previous features are “The Guatemalan Handshake” and “The Catechism Cataclysm” — appears caught between an impulse toward broad, mainstream comedy and something quirkier and more character-focused. In any case, he never fully achieves rowdy momentum.
Oswalt brings none of the depth he showed in roles in “Big Fan” and “Young Adult,” getting stuck in Rohal’s chasm between comedic strokes and more emotionally resonant moments.
It almost seems like harder work somehow to get this many comedians together and then turn out a movie that is only so fitfully funny.
“Nature Calls.” MPAA rating: R for language and some sexual content and nudity. Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes. At the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.