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(2010) (Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields) (PG)

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Family Comedy: A real estate developer's new housing project comes under attack by the woodland creatures being displaced.
After animals attack an executive named Riggs (ROB RIGGLE) charged with overseeing a new housing project that aims to clear away most of an Oregon forest, Dan Sanders (BRENDAN FRASER) uproots his wife, Tammy (BROOKE SHIELDS), and teenage son, Tyler (MATT PROKOP), from Chicago to take over management duties. Tyler is very unhappy with the relocation and lets dad know it every chance he gets. Tammy tries to make the best of it, teaching at a local high school and chairing the upcoming forest festival.

The same cunning, super-smart woodland animals that forced Riggs to quit the project, though, set their sights on driving Dan crazy. At every turn, they aim to do bodily harm to him, embarrass him, and generally make him look like a crazy man. No one -- not Tammy or Tyler or local security professional Wilson (TOBY HUSS) -- believes him when he tells them the creatures of the forest have targeted him.

Meanwhile, Dan comes under increased pressure from his greedy boss, Neal Lyman (KEN JEONG), and Lyman's equally corrupt assistant, Felder (ANGELA KINSEY), to speed up the project and expand it to include knocking out the whole forest. Neal even extends Dan's time commitment on the project from one year to three years. This really doesn't sit well with either Tammy or Tyler, but Tyler finds some comfort when a local activist teen named Amber (SKYLER SAMUELS) takes an interest in him.

The whole things leads up to the forest festival when Lyman and his top Indian investor visit the project and learn firsthand that vengeance is a dish best served...wait for it...furry!

OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
We here at ScreenIt.com are, of course, all for movies that deliver to kids and family audiences a positive social message. And "Furry Vengeance" seeks to do just that, telling the tale of a group of woodland animals who band together and take on a greedy developer who is threatening their habitat. The message of conservation, of protecting sacred forests, of calling companies to task for falsely professing to be "green" -- those are all good things.

So why then turn around and ALSO include jokes and bits of "humor" that are blatantly offensive to Asians, Native Americans, the elderly, and a number of other audience groups. This fundamentally misguided film also tests audience members' limit as to how long they'll sit and watch Brendan Fraser be defecated on, urinated on, his crotch bitten, his pants sprayed, his--

Well, you get the picture. At one point, a bear traps Fraser's Dan Sanders, pants-less, in a port-a-poppy and flips it end over end to the point where Dan is covered in excrement. Another sequence has him being gassed by skunks, prompting him to take a tomato-juice bath. He then blindly uses his wife's bra as a towel, then must dress in his wife's apparel after the animals steal all of his clothes.

And Fraser is one of the film's producers!

Amazingly, some cast members emerge with their dignity intact. Brooke Shields plays Tammy, Dan's understanding wife, and she brings a measure of calmness to the production. Shields has a nice way about her on screen, and it's a shame she doesn't do more films these days. I also liked Matt Prokop as Dan's unhappy teenage son and Skyler Samuels as Tyler's crusading new girlfriend. They're two very appealing young actors who the Disney Channel would be proud to add to their machine.

But Ken Jeong embarrasses himself and his race as Dan's greedy boss, who launches into some really offensive Asian screaming and gibberish fits when angered. And a minor subplot involving an elderly local teacher who is borderline senile isn't funny the first time she is held up for ridicule, much less the sixth or seventh.

When a film gets so wrong as "Furry Vengeance" does, the rest of the thing falls apart because there is so little good will left. Who knows why the animals in this particular Oregon forest are SO intelligent? Thankfully, digital animation doesn't give the power of speech. But, clearly, they are able to understand human speech and can even decipher complex development plans. Tyler briefly does some library research and finds that the local animals have consistently protected their forest for centuries. But little is made of this revelation.

The whole thing climaxes at a forest festival that draws all of the main characters together in one location, moving the worst offenders into place where they will soon be covered in bird poop and sent packing. A film like this is only as good as its heavy. And because Fraser is such an affable goof, there isn't much joy in watching the lion's share of the animals' vengeance directed at him. The critters' target or targets needed to be more varied. The animals needed to sabotage entire model homes. They needed to attack anyone who showed even a remote interest in buying a home in the proposed community. Heck, Jeong's character should have gotten it a lot WORSE in this film, considering he was the truly evil guy pulling all the strings!

OK, you want a conservation message? Conserve your cash and wait for a better family movie. This one rates only a 2 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed April 24, 2010 / Posted April 30, 2010

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