Mother nature is equal parts majestic and boring. Sadly, “The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter” only encapsulates that latter quality on its venture into the great, bloody outdoors. From writer/director Jody Hill, creator of the hilarious “Eastbound & Down,” the subversive “Vice Principals,” and the obnoxious “Observe and Report,” his latest Netflix jaunt doesn’t have enough personality to earn a strong adjective of its own. It still has some of the same white trash panache as “Eastbound,” but with far little cinematic gold glistening in its Caucasian cornrows.
We follow hunter and low production TV star Buck Ferguson (Josh Brolin), as he takes his spoiled tyke Jaden (Montana Jordan) on his first outdoor quest to kill a Whitetail Deer. Filming their journey is Don (Danny McBride), subservient to Buck’s whims but still acting as cool older bro to Jaden behind-the-scenes. Buck tries to bond with the outspoken Jaden, but the elementary schooler is too consumed with phoning his sixth-grade girlfriend to focus on killing deer. Much of the humor and plot thickens from Buck’s cowardice in the face of Jaden’s courage, and the growing realization that his tech-obsessed son will never realize the true magic and wonder of murdering innocent animals for sport.
It’s a decent premise, but one that “Whitetail” delivers without personality or substance. Buck is flawed and almost unlikable, which honestly would be better since we’d have something more concrete to say about him. Jaden feels like a lazy cousin to one of the “Talledega Nights” siblings, rebellious and outspoken but without anything interesting to say. Don is as outdated as the battered camera he carries, only existing to provide occasional moments of high-def exposition for Buck and Jaden’s out-of-focus relationship.
At 83 minutes, “Whitetail” is marvelously short but is still far too long. It’s a movie that feels adapted from some web series or SNL Digital Short that never made it past dress rehearsal. There are occasional leaves of humor, and the actors all do their best given the material, but “The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter” is a forgetful, father-son voyage that no moviegoer should embark.