Meet the Deedles

In Meet the Deedles comedy and chaos collide in the lives of twin brothers, Phil and Stew Deedle, who are devoted surfer dudes. Their wealthy father, Elton Deedle sends them off to Yellowstone Park for the summer to endure survivalist training in hopes they will become men. While there, they foil an evil plan engineered to destroy the park by using prairie dogs to reroute the Old Faithful geyser.

  • Starring: Dennis Hopper, Paul Walker IV, Steve Van Wormer and A.J. Langer
  • Director(s): Steve Boyum
  • Producer(s): DIC Productions
  • Screenwriter(s): Jim Herzfeld
  • Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures / Buena Vista Pictures
  • Animal Coordinator: Birds and Animals Unlimited
  • Release Date: Friday, March 27, 1998
  • Rating: Acceptable

Featured Animal Action

How many prairie dogs does it take to reroute a geyser?

Prairie dogs are seen throughout the film in large groups moving from A to B or in cages. Approximately 125 prairie dogs were trained to buzzer cues and food rewards for the film.

Who played the hero Prairie Dog, Petey?

Twelve prairie dogs were trained to portray Petey, the principal "PD" and buddy of the Deedles

After the production has wrapped, where do all the Prairie Dogs go?

After the end of principle photography, the trainers adopted the main Petey PD's while the rest of the animal actors returned either to their owners or to a Prairie Dog Refuge. Meet the Deedles is a comedy about twin brothers, Phil and Stew Deedle, who are devoted surfer dudes. Their wealthy father sends them off to Yellowstone Park for the summer to endure survivalist training in hopes they will become men. While there, they foil an evil plan engineered to destroy the park by using prairie dogs to reroute the Old Faithful geyser.

Animal Action:

On the way from the airport to the camp in Yellowstone Park, the boys are driving in a jeep and appear to spy several types of animals who are native to the area, such as a moose, a deer and a bird. These animals were placed on their marks by a trainer and filmed separately.

The jeep crashes into a ravine and the boys use their motorized skateboards to continue on to the park. A big rig carrying Mountain Mike's Traveling Circus speeds toward the wild skateboarders who cause the truck to screech to a halt. This accident releases the pin holding the door of the truck freeing the circus animals, an elephant, lion and bear, to wander off into the Wyoming woods. The animals were placed on mark by a trainer and each walked A to B when given verbal and hand commands. They were filmed individually and later edited together to make it appear as if all the animals were exiting the same truck. The elephant is seen later in the film running from A to B as if to evade Mountain Mike. For this, the trainer placed the elephant at point A and used a verbal cue to get the animal to run to point B where another trainer was waiting.

After release from the truck, the lion is seen chasing two girls whose campsite was destroyed by the jeep accident. The lion runs A to B and leaps at the girls who escape up a tree. The lion lies in wait below the cowering girls just licking his chops. For this action, trainers used visual and verbal commands with food rewards to get the animal to run and jump A to B. The camera was positioned under the animal as it jumped to make the leap appear dramatic. After being given a food reward, the animal was filmed naturally resting and licking his chops. The roars heard in these scenes were sound effects added in post production.

The bear is seen in several scenes throughout the film. Both a live bear and a man in a bear suit were used. A "Smokey the Bear" spokesperson in a bear costume is also part of the park's safety presentation, but is obviously a fake.

When the live bear appears behind two of the villains, four trainers were positioned around the animal and used verbal cues to get the bear to look from side to side. A verbal cue followed by a food reward was used to get the bear to stand on his hind legs and open his mouth. The ferocious roar was a sound effect dubbed into the final editing. Later the live bear joins the luau party where partygoers ignore him believing it to be the "Smokey the Bear" costumed mascot. Trainers in costume were placed around the bear and he was given verbal cues to walk A to B and to stand on his hind legs. When the bear approaches a jeep parked at the party site, trainers positioned in the jeep call to the bear who then approaches the vehicle. The bear seen driving away in the jeep is actually a man in a bear costume.

Prairie dogs are seen throughout the film in large groups moving from A to B or in cages. Approximately 125 prairie dogs were trained to buzzer cues and food rewards for the film. Twelve prairie dogs were trained to portray Petey, the principal "PD" and buddy of the Deedles. After the end of principle photography, the trainers adopted the main Petey PD's while the rest of the animal actors returned either to their owners or to a Prairie Dog Refuge.

When Petey is harnessed to a plastic bottle rigged to emit a gas into the villain's tunnel, several prairie dogs were prepped to wear the lightweight mesh harness and were used in rotation. The gas that is emitted from the bottle is non-toxic and Petey is merely placed into a hole, which appears to be the opening to the tunnel. A trainer using a buzzer command calls Petey who then runs a short distance through the tunnel to the waiting trainer. The tunnel is seen being blown up, however the prairie dog that is ejected from the tunnel is an animatronic double.

In one of the final scenes inside the tunnel, Petey climbs a heavy rope and leaps into the waiting hands of one of the Deedles. This scene was done in cuts and the prairie dog was trained to hold onto the rope which was coated with food. The animal was also trained for the jump into the waiting arms of the actor. During the great escape, a Deedle opens the front of his fire suit and slips Petey inside. To film this sequence, a real and fake prairie dog were used.

Finally, Petey gets to party with his surfer friends and is seen perched on the actor's shoulder wearing a lei and sunglasses on top of his head. The trainer put Petey on the actor's shoulder and gave food rewards to keep him in place. The costume pieces were very lightweight and in no way bothered the animal.

Other animal action involved the use of insects and pigeons. The insects are served as a luncheon treat, live on a bed of greens and weeds. For this scene, live spiders and slugs were used as well as rubber worms. The trainer placed the insects on the leaves and they crawled away naturally. No insects were ever eaten. While hiking, one of the Deedles and his girlfriend share a worm as a natural snack, but a fake worm was used. Pigeons are seen only in one scene where they appear perched on a tree limb. As they fly away they defecate on the Captain of the Park Rangers. Trainers placed the birds on the tree limb and released other birds, those trained to fly back to their coop, to fly overhead. The excessive pigeon droppings that fall are merely a fake liquid created by the prop department.

American Humane Association monitored the animal action on set.