© 2010 Ray Wong
Furry Vengeance is the kind of movies that make me glad I don't have children age 6-10. Then again, I ended up seeing this dud anyway, childless or not.
Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser) is a real estate development manager employed by businessman Neal Lyman (Ken Jeong). He moves his family -- wife Tammy (Brooke Shields) and 16-year-old son Tyler (Matt Prokop) -- to a forest community in Oregon. Initially they're only going to be there for one year so he can get phase one of the project finished, then they're supposed to return to Chicago. However, Mr. Lyman convinces Dan to stay another three years to finish phase two of the expansion.
What Dan doesn't know is: a) Lyman plans to destroy the forest to build his mega-suburb complete with strip malls; b) Lyman's plan will seriously affect the local ecosystem and drive the animals away or kill them; and c) a devious raccoon is leading the forest creatures to sabotage Dan's plan.
Soon it becomes a war between the raccoon and Dan, who is determined to eradicate his nemesis even though his family doesn't believe him and thinks he's gone bonkers. Of course, Dan is so obsessed with his job and his raccoon problem that he is ignoring his family and what is really important. Will he destroy his enemies, or will he see the light and realize he should be helping the animals instead? (Um, duh!)
Brendan Fraser (Extraordinary Measures) hasn't had a hit since…well, I can't remember; maybe The Mummy 4 and its success is arguable. Here, pudgy and overacting, Fraser caters to the lowest common denominator by acting like a buffoon. Of course, there's nothing wrong with using physical comedy to make us laugh, but much of his character's antics are idiotic and even mean-spirited. As a human cartoon (they must be going for the Loonie Toons effect), Fraser simply isn't all that funny or flexible. I understand he's probably making these PG comedies for his young kids, but still, there's a time to be a father, and another time to be an actor. If Fraser continues down this path, soon he will be working as an extra in TV sitcoms!
Brooke Shields (Hannah Montana) doesn't fare much better. I never pictured Shields as a comedy actor anyway, despite her various efforts (e.g. Suddenly Susan). Fortunately, she still adds a little class to the production. She's just not that funny -- it's ironic that her funniest moment is when she spoofs her Blue Lagoon persona during the end credits.
Matt Prokop (High School Musical) is unimpressive as Dan's son. I keep wanting to see more edge, more anger, more mischief, but all we get is a boring teenager. Angela Kinsey (The Office) could have been very funny as Lyman's assistant, but her role is too small. Ken Jeong (The Hangover) is the funniest actor in the bunch, and it's kind of interesting to see him play a ruthless businessman named Neal Lyman. Then Jeong starts to do his racial stereotypes and it all goes downhill from there. I mean, seriously, what is going on? The guy speaks perfect English and suddenly he's making these cartoonish chipmunk noises imitating an Asian language (I have no idea whether it is Chinese or Japanese or Vietnamese -- it just sounds like gibberish to me). It's offensive.
Michael Carnes (Mr. Woodcock) and Josh Gilbert (Mr. Woodcock) approached their story clearly with the young crowd (especially boys) in mind. The trouble is, that doesn't leave much for the adults to enjoy. There are films that can be enjoyed by everyone (Pixar is very good at making them). Such is not the case with this dud. The story is tiresome and silly. The dialogue is infantile. The slapstick comedy may work for the Loonie Toons or even a live-action featuring rubber-man Jim Carey, but Brendan Fraser? Nope. The plot is idiotic, the characters one-dimensional, and it's just not that funny. Not to mention when many of the jokes revolve around potty humor and hitting crotches, you know something is seriously wrong with it. Or at least, it's written by 8-year-olds for 8-year-olds.
To make things worse, director Roger Kumble (College Road Trip) stumbles in making this dud. The pacing is off, and it has the attention of a flea. There are way too many mishaps for Dan to take, and thus the predictable, inevitable transformation near the end is not convincing at all. Granted, no 8-year-olds are going to care about the plausibilities -- they just want to see adults getting hit or stung by bees or sprayed by skunks or falling… So, if that's the kind of humor you're looking for, you probably won't be disappointed.
For the rest of us who are not under 10, however, we can go ahead and diss it with a vengeance.
Stars: Brendan Fraser, Brooke Sheilds, Matt Prokop, Ken Jeong, Angela Kinsey
Director: Roger Kumble
Writers: Michael Carnes, Josh Gilbert
MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor, mild language and brief smoking
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Script – 3
Performance – 6
Direction – 5
Cinematography – 7
Editing – 6
Production – 7
Total – 4.5 out of 10