Will Netflix’s New Deer Hunting Movie Make Hunters Look Like Buffoons?  

The film's a comedy, but Netflix's new deer hunting movie shows some serious potential if it doesn't face-plant by wading into a debate about AR-15s.
Will Netflix’s New Deer Hunting Movie Make Hunters Look Like Buffoons?  

When streaming services like Netflix and Hulu released what's new for July, there was an unlikely, original movie among them. And the film might pique the interest of hunters, particularly deer hunters. "The Legacy of a White Tail Deer Hunter,” a Netflix original, is available to stream on Friday, July 6. It's lead character is played by Josh Brolin, an actor who has enjoyed a heck of a run this summer with high-profile turns as Thanos in "Avengers: Infinity Wars," while also starring alongside Ryan Reynolds in the May release of "Deadpool 2."

So this something coming out of Hollywood that hunters can potentially get pumped about. Problem is, today’s hunter doesn’t fare so well in film, which is why it would be really cool if Netflix's new deer hunting movie was different. In period films like Leonardo DiCaprio's  “The Revenant” or Robert Redford’s turn as a trapper and hunter in “Jeremiah Johnson,” the hunter is portrayed as a self-reliant hero.

But modern-day hunters depicted in Reese Witherspoon’s "Sweet Home Alabama" were an embarrassment. Not to mention the entire movie was a pathetic depiction of what today’s rural America is really like. Then there’s the male characters of the movie, “Wedding Crashers,” who were cast in a quail-hunting scene that’s equally as bad. The authenticity of the hunt itself was abysmal and, of course, the scene ended with Vince Vaughn getting shot in his backside by a fellow hunter played by Bradley Cooper.

So not only was the hunting scene wildly unrealistic, the hunters were portrayed as reckless buffoons.

And I suppose Hollywood can get away with such inaccuracies since only 6 percent of Americans hunt, while 94 percent of the country is blindly influenced by misinformation and sweeping generalizations that often sell hunting far short of the dedication and woodsmanship the pursuit actually requires of its participants. Here’s a recent story about hunting Dall sheep in Alaska that spells out the extent of such dedication required of someone who's preparing to hunt the backcountry.

But watch the trailer for Netflix’s upcoming comedic film, "The Legacy of a White Tail Deer Hunter,” and there’s hope this turn at modern hunting will somehow be better.

https://youtu.be/V6OkvsfZ6GE

The film was written and directed by Jody Hill who grew up in North Carolina’s Appalachia, a region where the hunting culture prevails and hunters account for a larger percentage of the community than the nation’s humble 6 percent. And therein lies the hope that maybe Hill can get this hunting thing right.

Brolin is cast as celebrity-hunter Buck Ferguson who’s made a career of traveling the world hunting big game, while his trusted cameraman, played by Danny McBride, documents these pursuits. Buck’s got a sweet gig, but his ex is about to marry a man he doesn’t want around his 12-year-old son Jaden. So he decides it’s time to take a somewhat disinterested Jaden on his first hunt. And that’s where the movie begins.

While Brolin’s father, actor James Brolin, was immersed in the Hollywood culture, his son had little exposure to his father’s acting career, growing up on a ranch in Templeton, California.

In an interview with The Wrap, Brolin talked about growing up in Templeton, where hunting and guns were a common way of life.

While recent shootings have made gun control a hot button topic in America, that didn’t stop Josh Brolin from starring in “The Legacy of a White Tail Deer Hunter,” a father-son comedy about a favorite American pastime involved with guns — hunting.

“Where I grew up, there was incredible respect around guns, and I’m considered a liberal or whatever that is,” Brolin told TheWrap’s Editor-in-Chief Sharon Waxman at SXSW. “But at the same time there’s a culture where I come from, where that’s just a part of what you do.”

There is a scene, however, that could rouse the ire of 2A supporters.

The scene wades into what has been a recurrent debate about AR-15s, particularly since the recent Parkland school shooting in Florida. There is no trailer featuring this scene, so it’s unclear what the film’s message here will be. Still, there’s this account from Nick Johnston, who attended SXSW and saw the film firsthand on assignment for Vanyaland.com.

"Also, and perhaps obviously, this film’s release comes at a period in which gun control is a source of major national debate, and I don’t think there’s a pro-gun side to this movie — Jaden’s AR-15 is a recurring joke at which Buck constantly scowls at ... "

netflix's new deer hunting movie

Josh Brolin is cast as celebrity-hunter Buck Ferguson in the Netflix original film"The Legacy of a White Tail Deer Hunter."Ferguson's made a career of traveling the world hunting big game, while his trusted cameraman — played by Danny McBride — documents these pursuits. Photo: "No Country For Old Men"/Miramax Films

Related: What does "AR" in AR-15 stand for? 

It’ll be interesting to see how the film sets this up. Making a joke of the AR-15 is a slippery slope (at best) if the aim is to appeal to audiences living in Red State America. But other interviews about the movie suggest the AR-15 bit will showcase an older hunter who favors the merits of a classic hunting rifle, while his 12-year-old son — the preteen, non-hunter of the two — is more enamored with the power of the AR-15.

If that's the case, then that’s interesting. Because, as we're learning from recent gun surveys, that would be a reflection of real life, which is both counterintuitive and ironic.

According to Politico:

"Respondents aged 18-29 are the least likely in the country to support a renewed ban on assault weapons, at 49 percent, a fact that has helped drive nationwide support down to a record low. Pew’s data suggest that those falling in the youngest age range have dropped the furthest in support for “gun control” since 2000 (when the alternative is presented as “gun rights”). And when the question concerns the National Rifle Association’s top legislative priority, concealed carry, millennials appear to lead the country." 

Related: New study finds 72 percent of U.S. adults have fired a gun

Related: 2018 report: deer hunting trends

If the film can delve into these cultural and generational nuances about hunting, gun ownership and gun rights with accuracy and empathy, its story could resonate with a hunting-centric, rural audience, while not squelching the film’s urban and suburban potential.

"The Legacy of a White Tail Deer Hunter" is available to stream on Netflix July 6.


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