Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields, Ken Jeong, Samantha Bee, Matt Prokop, Wallace Shawn DIRECTED BY
Roger Kumble SCREENPLAY
Michael Carnes, Josh Gilbert MPAA RATING
Rated PG RUNNING TIME
92 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY
Summit Entertainment DVD EXTRAS
The Pitfalls of Pratfalls
Working with Animals: A Profile of Ken Beggs
Audio Commentary w/ Director & Cast
Remember when Disney's Over the Hedge came out and you found yourself just a tad turned off by its environmental preachiness and decided lack of humor and kid friendliness?
Wait until you see Furry Vengeance, the latest flick featuring kidpic actor extraordinaire Brendan Fraser. Fraser appears to have not learned a single lesson from such cinematic drivel as Dudley Do-Right or George of the Jungle or any number of other films designed primarily to appeal to the not quite yet discerning crowd of six-year-old moviegoers.
Will the same be true for Furry Vengeance?
It's hard to imagine even six-year-olds embracing Furry Vengeance, a film that is so uncomfortably awkward that its biggest laughs come from watching its cast squirm onscreen for all to see.
In the film, Fraser plays Dan, a semi-upwardly mobile adorable doofus of a fellow whose attempt at providing a better life for his family lead him and his loving wife (Brooke Shields) and not so adoring son (Matt Prokop, High School Musical 3) into the wooded wild to essentially tear down the forest and put up a "green" community for the spoiled yet faux socially responsible rich.
Make sense? Of course it doesn't.
In fact, nothing in Furry Vengeance really makes sense. It doesn't really have to, considering director Roger Kumble's target audience is clearly those who are still learning to color inside the lines and who are likely to think that watching Fraser face an onslaught of skunk fumes, bird poop, body fluids and assorted other liquids is downright freakin' hilarious.
The only thing actually hilarious in the film is its awkwardness, including a couple of hilarious one-liners from Brooke Shields that work only because Shields looks so darn serious when she's saying them.
I admit it. I giggled.
Kudos to go to Kumble and screenwriters Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert for not giving us animals that talk, one of the most irritating kidpic trait of recent years. However, while our animals, led by the most homicidal raccoon you've likely ever seen, may not talk they certainly do manage to make an amazing array of faces and voices.
Believable? Oh, not in the least.
Despite nearly collapsing into awfulness, there's something about Brendan Fraser in these films that is eerily watchable. While I can't quite bring myself to say that Fraser elevates even the worst film, he does seem to have an uncanny knack for completely immersing himself into the silliness of it all in a way that not even Eddie Murphy has managed to achieve. Despite being surrounded by a nearly collapsing film, Fraser is still strangely watchable here even when he shows up in a wear of pink sweats that no self-respecting actor would ever stoop to wearing.
Shields, who has never met a comedy in which she couldn't appear painfully uncomfortable, is surprisingly relaxed here and manages to elicit a few sympathetic laughs as the increasingly suffering wife. While the film makes a big "to do" of her being assigned the town's big Forest Festival, the script makes surprisingly little of the scenario other than calling upon Shields to be the straight man to Fraser's lunacy.
Ken Jeong, as Dan's high strung boss, surely must be having flashbacks of the glorious comedy of The Hangover. Here, Jeong continues his recent trend of playing hyped up Asians who somehow manage to be unfunny in more than one language.
The biggest problem, though, with Furry Vengeance isn't the lack of humor or the awkward dialogue. The simple fact is that Furry Vengeance is truly an incredibly mean-spirited and vengeful film. While it's likely that co-writers Gilbert and Carnes would like you to take home wonderful lessons about how it takes more than choosing paper over plastic to make someone "green," it's incredibly challenging to take home a positive message about protecting the animals when these animals are downright vicious in an animated, cartoonish sort of way.
Furry Vengeance opens with the apparent demise of the first person sent to develop this housing addition (Rob Riggle, in a cameo), a man who meets his match in the woodland's raccoon ring leader. Before long, Fraser's Dan falls victim to all sorts of forest hijinks and, even considering Dan's clearly impure motive, it's hard to be any more sympathetic to the animals than it is Dan. While the film's closing minutes attempt to put forth the expected "justification" for their vigilante behavior, by the time far too pat explanation comes around it's much too little and much too late.
Furry Vengeance is, refreshingly enough, not filmed in 3-D, so at least you won't have to deal with the kiddoes demanding to spend the waste any more of your hard-earned bucks than you'll already be wasting if you're roped into this disappointing flick.
If you've actually found yourself sitting through the entire Furry Vengeance experience, you might as well stick around for the closing credits musical montage. I can't say it's particularly brilliant, but it certainly is memorable.