Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Man, I can’t tell you how much it warms my heart to know that Steve Guttenberg is still alive and acting. I think the last movie I saw my main man Steve in was ‘Police Academy 4’ back in 1987 so it has been a while. (Editors note: Actually Christopher saw Mr. Guttenberg a couple of months ago in the Jessica Simpson vehicle Private Valentine, but apparently he’s chosen to forget that). Imagine my joy in seeing Steve not only in a movie but in an action thriller at that! No more playing second fiddle to dudes who make funny sounds with their mouths or incredibly old people floating around in alien infested swimming pools. And no more playing second fiddle to cute kids and taller, handsomer TV stars. Steve Guttenberg is the man and he’s going to prove it in this movie, his return to leading man glory, ‘Fatal Rescue’! Of course if the rescue is fatal then is it really a rescue? Hmmm…

Steve assumes the role of Jacob Jones, an asshole corporate something or another hanging around Germany so he can finalize the divorce with his asshole wife Emille (Aislinn Sands). I think his wife is supposed to be German since her father (Martin Honer) speaks with a German accent and the Jones’ young son Toby (Nicholas Landman Boughardt) speaks with a German accent but the mom, for whatever reason, doesn’t have a trace of a German accent. I guess it skips a generation. Anyway Jacob wants to see his son before the finalization hearing, shows up unannounced and proceeds to yell at everybody. Steve Guttenberg does an awful lot of yelling in this movie.

To cut to the chase Toby is spending the night with a neighbor boy, a boy who is a total asshole, who makes Toby play with him in the woods. You see the woods are forbidden to enter by everybody in this small enclave, even though this small enclave is almost complete made up of woods which severely limits where you can go around here. While playing in the forbidden woods Toby falls down a mine shaft and this asshole neighbor boy runs off, leaves little Toby there to die.

Fortunately Toby isn’t dead. Yet. His mom and the cat who digs Toby’s mom, Fireman Mike (Dominic Rickhards), who is also an asshole, discovers Toby but Toby is really difficult to save. For instance they throw Toby a harness but Toby is way too stupid to put it on. Fireman Mike tries to repel into the mine but he accidentally drops bricks and debri on Toby’s face. Then asshole Jacob shows up on the scene a proceeds to yell at people some more. Plus it looks like these woods are haunted or something. In fact when they tell the Rescue Patrol where Toby is located they refuse to go and decide to let Toby die. Or so we’re led to believe. We won’t even get into the big secret that these woods are hiding… man, it’s going to blow your mind. And if the big secret doesn’t blow your mind the Steve Guttenberg’s constant yelling will finish the job.

The director of this movie, a cat named Stephen Manuel, has endeared himself to me greatly due to the last movie of his I saw ‘Perfect Hideout’. Now ‘Perfect Hideout’ was terrible. Simply awful. But there were times during that movie that I was laughing so loud and hard that I couldn’t breathe. Seriously. Thus can we call a movie that brings us that much joy, even if this joy was unintended, a bad movie? Of course we can, but I loved it nonetheless. This brings us to ‘Fatal Rescue’ which is a little better than ‘Perfect Hideout’ cinematically speaking but unfortunately this increased competence has resulted in absolutely no unintended laughter which in turn made for a far less entertaining movie watching experience. If that makes any damn sense.

Thus in the absence of slapstick comedy we’re kind of stuck watching this drama played out by some of the most unpleasant characters you would ever want to meet, including the children. Rare is the movie that the audience sits around thinking that the world might be a better place if the little tyke in peril were to just drown, but that’s how irritating little Toby turned out to be. In this sense I supposed we should impressed with Mr. Guttenberg’s performance considering he’s made a career of playing sweet, silly, goofy guys but here you wanted him to fall down that well and drown with his intensely annoying son. And the ex-wife. And Fireman Mike. And his wife’s crippled dad. Plus the movie was setting us up to believe that these woods were haunted or something, had us waiting for some kind of ghostly monster to reveal itself, but no… it just presented German people being scaredy cats who are fearful of random clumps of trees.

So since there were no thrills, we didn’t care if anyone lived or died, no drama and no unintended comedy, we can easily say that we didn’t have that great a time watching ‘Fatal Rescue’. That is outside of observing the glorious return of Steve Guttenberg and view this return by observing him scream incessantly and act like a total asshole.

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