Almost History... Almost Legends... Almost Heroes... Mostly Ridiculous.This 1998 comedy directed by Christopher Guest takes a lighter look at the concept of exploration in the early 1800s.Leslie Edwards (Matthew Perry) seeks to trek West, from the United States territory to the Pacific. Unfotunately, he finds himself in a race against the more famous Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, and lacking much in the way of the crew. Enter Bartholomew Hunt (Chris Farley), a hefty, crass woodsman with a taste for booze. Accompanied by Hunt's hapless cohorts, a Frenchmen and his Indian slave, the band sets out to beat the more famous Lewis and Clark at their own game.This was Chris Farley's last movie before his premature death. His true final movie, Dirty Work, was released after it (though Farley only had a bit part in Dirty Work, while he was a co-star for this film).
This film provides examples of:
- And the Adventure Continues: Edwards and Hunt succeed in reaching the Pacific coast, but they and their expedition decide to continue their adventure by exploring the world.
- Artistic License – Physics: Hunt is carried in the air... by an eagle. The saving throw is that it's done for laughs.
- Bold Explorer: The whole film basically parodies this trope, as both protagonists want to be bold explorers, but neither is particularly bold.
- Chekhov's Gag: The eagle that Hunt steal her eggs comes back to literally picking him up and dropping him in the Pacific, allowing the Edwards and Hunt expedition to reach the coast just minutes before Lewis and Clark's expedition.
- The Chew Toy: Pratt suffers the most than any other in the expedition. This include: his ear bitten off by Guy Fontenot, losing a leg to a bear, and getting shot by one of Hidalgo's men.
- Companion Cube: One of the men carries a woman made of straw on the journey (he in fact brought her from a "whorehouse" full of them that they come across), completely convinced she's real.
- Cunning Linguist: Averted for Guy Fontenot, who claims to know all the languages of the Native American tribes the group would encounter. Quickly turns out he doesn't. Only his Indian wife Shaquinna fills in the role instead.
- Defiant to the End: Hunt was about to be hang and give one to his executioner just before being pardon by President Jefferson.Hunt: When I am dead and have passed on to the next world... I want you to lower me from these gallows and...kiss my hairy buttocks!
- Drinking Contest: Hunt challenges Hidalgo and all of his men to a drinking contest. Hunt won before passing out.
- Envy: When Hidalgo tells the captured companions that he's going to cut Shaquinna's hair off and asks them why, Higgins answers is because he's jealous of her hair being more beautiful than his. After we find out that Hidalgo is bald and was only wearing a wig, Higgins may be right.
- Fake Hair Drama: After Hidalgo is revealed to have been wearing a wig the entire time.
- Foregone Conclusion / The Greatest Story Never Told: While the Edwards and Hunt expedition beat the Lewis and Clark expedition at reaching the Pacific coast first, they decide not to return back home. Meaning that despite all of their efforts, Lewis and Clark took all the credits in history as we know it. Although Edwards, Hunt, and their friends are more happy with just exploring the world than for fame.
- Glory Hound: Leslie Edwards, a foppish aristocrat, started the entire journey in order to become famous.
- Narrator: Voiced by Harry Shearer.
- Never Learned to Read: Bartholomew Hunt is completely illiterate. So Edwards tries to teach him to learn the alphabets; however, Hunt Rage Quit over the letter "A".
- Plot Twist: Higgins tells his campfire story about tricking his brother to eating sheep shit. He then reveals the twist is that he never had a brother, and it was him who ate it.Edward: (disgusted) Clever twist there on the ending.