Josh Brolin Heads to the Wilderness in Netflix Comedy ‘The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter’
Divorce is never easy, and one newly-single father’s plight is chronicled in the outdoor Netflix comedy “The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter.” Josh Brolin plays a character unlike one he has ever played before as Buck Ferguson, a famed hunter who has made a name for himself by starring in a series of DVDs promoting the outdoorsman lifestyle. With DVD sales being in decline, he aims to rejuvenate his career by bringing in the next generation, his 12-year-old son, Jaden (Montana Jordan). Buck decides to ignite the younger Ferguson by taking him on his first hunting trip, and it is his hope to see the boy kill his first deer. Documenting the journey is Buck’s longtime cameraman, Don (Danny McBride). To Buck’s dismay, the apple has fallen very far from the tree, leading to some awkward moments as he struggles to find common ground with his spawn. Adding to the tension is Don’s discontent, as he feels he has been taken advantage of by his blowhard boss for far too long.
Like most divorced kids, Jaden lives primarily with his mother (an underused Carrie Coon), a nice lady who likes to cook for her family and is dismayed with the fact that her son is falling behind in school. While Buck brushes off her concerns, his main beef is with her new boyfriend, Greg (Scoot McNairy). Like virtually every other comedy dealing with a divorced dad, Buck’s “replacement” is his exact opposite, a white collar, button-down type of guy. Later, Buck goes ballistic when he hears that Jaden has been calling Greg “Dad.” Buck expresses regret for the breakdown of his marriage, but it’s hard to discern if he truly wants his wife back or if his anger stems more from macho pride.
Jaden, like most kids his age, prefers electronics to the outdoors, and, predictably, he doesn’t magically turn into a hunter when a gun is placed in his hand. Director/co-writer Jody Hill does a fine job here of highlighting the differences between the generations, as Jaden has little patience for his father’s drawn-out method of luring deer, as he is disappointed the hunting animals is vastly different than killing in video games. That’s not to say that Jaden is a jaded kid. Precocious and sensitive, Jaden gets to deliver some of the film’s best lines. After Buck takes away his phone, he complains about not be able to contact his little girlfriend, bemoaning, “We’re each other’s support system.”
Gun-loving Buck, someone who feels left behind by a changing economy and arguably has antiquated ideas about what it means to be a man, is the type of guy whom one might assume would be a supporter of our current POTUS. However, Hill doesn’t take a political stance here, nor does he get too deep here regarding toxic masculinity. And while there is missed opportunity in further exploring certain themes, Buck’s frustrations regarding his son come through loud and clear here.
McBride breathes much life into the film as the goofy Don, who in many ways is more evolved than his boss. However, there is one scene in which he shows young Jaden sexually explicit photos, and while this scene is played for laughs, some viewers may take issue with the depiction of the type of behavior that can be labeled as “grooming.” Understandably, Buck has a strong reaction when he catches wind of what his employee did, although Don proves to be an integral part of the final act.
“The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter” premieres July 6 on Netflix.