It would be easy to dismiss The Terrible Adventure as, well, terrible. The acting is atrocious, the story is stupid, and despite being only about an hour and a half, the movie feels about twice its length. Yet, when it’s shortcomings are aggregated and seen as a whole, the movie achieves a strange sort of brilliance. The performances might be aggressively amateur and the acting style stupefyingly exaggerated (on a scale of one to ten on the heightened performance meter, all of the actors shoot for a thirty), but they’re consistent across the board. Obviously, writer-director Kel Thompson knew exactly what he wanted out of his cast.
The story itself is kindergarten-level entertainment, but appropriate if viewed through the lens of a five-year-old. Solving a riddle written on the inside of an ice cream wrapper leads siblings Olivia (Olivia Thompson) and Jackson (Jackson Thompson) on an intrastate scavenger hunt all over sunshiny Florida. The puzzle was concocted by a Willy Wonka-esque tycoon named Billy Bob Branson (Ron Beau), who promised a $1 million prize to whoever collects all of the clues and ultimately solves a series of vaguely environment-conscious riddles, which he spouts forth via a locked YouTube page.
“Solving a riddle written on the inside of an ice cream wrapper leads siblings…on an intrastate scavenger hunt…”
Hot on the trail of Olivia and Jackson is a pair of ice cream men (Santo Curatolo and Ciro Dobric), who are after the booty for themselves. It’s best to just get over the inherent creepiness of ice cream men stalking a pair of kids. Curatolo and Dobric make the criminals played by Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci in Home Alone seem like lessons in nuanced subtlety by comparison.
Also trailing Olivia and Jackson is their father, Brad (Brett Engle), a kindly loser who can’t seem to keep track of his kids’ whereabouts. His estranged wife (the kid’s mother), Janet (Jillian Chiappones), is your standard-issue obnoxious bitch who has her ex-husband programmed into her phone as ‘The Schmuck.’
"…you can't even ascribe the label of 'unintentional camp'..."