Escanaba in da Moonlight Review
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I grew up in Michigan. In other words, I grew up in a place where pretty much everyone owned a rifle—which they took along with them each fall when they packed up their pick-ups and tromped through the woods, chasing down pheasants and deer and (most often) chipmunks. While I didn’t grow up in a hunting family (though my brothers did often shoot at pesky squirrels in the back yard), I grew up thinking of November 15th as a major holiday—the beginning of deer hunting season, a day when the halls at school were eerily quiet. And for weeks thereafter, the local paper would report on the big hauls of the season. So for me, Escanaba in da Moonlight is absolutely side-splitting.

Based on the play by Jeff Daniels, Escanaba tells the story of Reuben Soady (played by Daniels), Escanaba’s famous “Buckless Yooper” (for those of you who don’t know, a “Yooper” is a resident of Michigan’s upper peninsula, known as the UP). At 43, Reuben is humiliated by the fact that he’s been hunting all his life and has yet to bag his first buck. All of Escanaba is convinced that Reuben is cursed. But as he drives out to the Soady Deer Camp, Reuben is determined to make this The Year.

On the first night of deer camp, everything seems to go wrong. Reuben’s dad’s (Harve Presnell) homemade whiskey is nothing but sap. The Euchre cards mysteriously become nothing but 2s, 3s, and 4s. And a DNR ranger (Randall Godwin) shows up and claims to have seen God out on the ridge. And even though they won’t admit it out loud, Reuben’s family is convinced that it’s all because of Reuben’s curse.

Escanaba in da Moonlight is quirky and bizarre—and absolutely hilarious. Those of you who loved Daniels in Dumb and Dumber will want to run right out and find yourself a copy (and you’ll most likely play the fart scene over and over and over until you wear out the DVD). If you live in deer hunting country, you’ll totally identify with this movie—but even if you’ve never seen a rifle or eaten a venison burger, you’ll still enjoy it. All that’s required is a sense of humor and a love of the peculiar.

For more information about Escanaba see

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