Details: (PG), 92 mins, In Cinemas 16 September 2010, United States, English
Synopsis: In the Oregon wilderness, a real estate developer's new housing subdivision faces a unique group of protesters, local woodland creatures who don't want their homes disturbed.
A new low in Brendan Fraser's questionable resume.
The cute, family-friendly concept behind Furry Vengeance no doubt ensured its production and remains the one thing that the producers can claim justifies its existence. Because every other horrid element of this Brendan Fraser vehicle marks a low point in the careers of everyone involved, both in front of and behind the camera.
Fraser, whose career choices have ranged from instinctively sublime (Philip Noyce’s The Quiet American, 2002; Paul Haggis’ Crash, 2004) to bewilderingly ridiculous (Henry Selick’s Monkeybone, 2001), plays Dan Sanders. As a mid-level executive for property developer Neil Lyman (everywhere-at-the-moment Ken Jeong), he has shifted his wife (Brooke Shields) and objectionable teenage son (Matt Prokop) to Oregon where he is overseeing the devastation of virgin forest to make way for a new housing estate.
With not a single ‘greenie’ in sight to object against the deforestation, the creatures of the region take it upon themselves to fight back, targeting Dan in a campaign of slapstick shock-&-awe aimed at driving the encroaching humans far way. The woodland warriors (represented onscreen by well-trained, basic animatronic and cheaply-animated versions) are led by a wily raccoon, who commands a brigade of snivelling weasels, fearless crows, albino vultures (in Oregon?), gassy skunks and the obligatory grizzly bear (who, after roles in 2009’s excrutiating Hugh Grant comedy Did You Hear About The Morgans? and now this travesty, needs a new agent).
Their attacks upon Fraser, who is reduced to the ignominious level of squeezing his hulking frame into a pink jumpsuit for laughs (his blubbery figure is a long way from the svelte specimen he cut in 1997’s George of the Jungle), make up the bulk of the film. The term ‘mugging for the camera’ is redefined by Fraser, who winces, grimaces, shrieks and frowns as if no one was or would be watching. The script, by Josh Gilbert and Michael Carnes (the duo responsible for the unwatchable Billy Bob Thornton film, Mr. Woodcock, 2007), features scenes that extend far beyond their need, as if director Roger Kumble just kept filming in the hope something funny would eventually happen. It never does.
Ah, yes, director Roger Kumble…. Since having launched himself onto the Hollywood landscape as writer/director of Cruel Intentions (1999), the surprisingly-classy modern reimagining of Dangerous Liaisons starring Ryan Phillipe and Reese Witherspoon, Kumble has gone into a career tailspin helming some of the worst American comedies of the last decade (The Sweetest Thing, 2002; Just Friends, 2005; College Road Trip, 2008).
His inability to convey even the merest of laughs with anything he puts onscreen continues unchecked – everything about Furry Vengeance is way off-target. It is too talky for the littlies, features too many scenes of sweaty workmen making ‘funny’ for teenagers, fails to convince with its special effects (a vulture attack of Fraser looks like an 80’s video game) and is just too horribly embarrassing for everyone involved (audience included) for adults to sit through.
With it rolling into cinemas as school holiday programming, its utterly unnecessary bigscreen season begs the question “Is there really such a paucity of live-action family films on offer that Furry Vengeance needs a release at all?” Frankly, its presence in Australian cinemas is a disgrace.
(Reviewer's footnote: The above review reflects my opinion of approximately 75 minutes of the film’s 92 minute running. I exited the preview screening with 18 minutes to spare certain of the fact that, short of a surprise cameo by Marlon Brando, my thoughts regarding the film would be unchanged.)
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