Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Despite A Decent Environmental Message, Furry Vengeance Was Arguably The Worst Film Of 2010!

The Good: Environmental message
The Bad: Not funny, Not clever, Not original, No great performances or character work, Generally lousy c.g.
The Basics: A droll family comedy, Furry Vengeance is more likely to leave everyone in the family disappointed than anything else.

I am a big fan of the environment. I even like films that have a strong environmentalist message. My wife, for example, has Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest in her personal collection and we were thrilled to watch the new documentary Oceans (reviewed here!) to celebrate her newfound freedom. So, when we had the opportunity to see Furry Vengeance a few days early, we decided to take it. Now, we're both wishing we had stayed at home. Furry Vengeance ought to have been redeemed by its strong environmentalist message, but even that could not save this droll family comedy from an absolute "not recommend." It is, right now, my Front-runner for Worst Film Of 2010 and I suspect could sweep the Razzies next year.

I never thought I would say that about a film starring Brendan Fraser, but there you have it. Fraser, who has been in a number of truly great films, reverts to a family film that becomes arguably the worst movie of his career. Furry Vengeance has Fraser working his physical comedy skills as part of an ensemble comedy where animals and children are more intelligent than businesspeople. The problem with this is that all of the adults are universally dolts. And, sadly, the entire ninety-two minute film is essentially shown in the two minute trailer. That said . . .

Dan Sanders is a developer who has the chance to work on an exciting new project called Rocky Springs, in Oregon. Hired by Neal Lyman, who owns the property and has a vision of upscale housing and a mall in the middle of the wilderness, Dan moves his wife and son out to the site so he can make Rocky Springs a reality. However, shortly after the move, Dan finds himself the victim of apparent pranks like cut break lines and boulders rolling into the road and other pranks that prevent him from getting his work done. It does not take long before he notices that animals are involved in many of the shenanigans which cause his work to be delayed.

Pressing forward, Dan discovers the animals are marshaling against him, but he feels compelled to continue. After incidents at the groundbreaking and with a port-a-john and an encounter which opens his eyes to the effects of his work, Dan is forced to consider the ramifications of Rocky Springs and choose a path that suits him and his family better.

Furry Vengeance is like Home Alone without the witty dialogue and where Brendan Fraser plays the burglars. This might seem like a stretch, but it's not an inapt analogy, save that Fraser is analogous to playing the burglars with reactions like the kid from the film. As such, Furry Vengeance features animals and computer-generated animals using tools and their claws and teeth to set off traps for Dan Sanders and Dan running afoul of them and acting with manic reactions that are so over-the-top one pretty much forgets that Brendan Fraser was ever an a-lister. Birds knock on windowpanes to keep him awake and he flops out of bed. Birds dive-bomb poop on executives and animals team up to drive off with Dan's car and the situation goes from potentially entertaining to ridiculous in the most vapid ways imaginable.

The problems with Furry Vengeance start with the concept and continue through the execution. Dan initially questions the development of Rocky Springs, but gives in for the money he is offered and the potential career boost he wants. It seems like he would either commit to that or he would have been swayed much earlier in the film. Dan's primary nemesis, a raccoon, eventually offers him an out which fits the family man's emotional needs, but it seems pretty ridiculous that he would crumble just because he comes to realize the movie's Very Important Lesson. It's one most everyone ñ even the children who are most likely to forgive the flick's massive flaws ñ would have coming into the movie. It's not the type of movie that will sway people and create a real army of environmentalists.

The execution is equally problematic. As far as the acting goes, Brooke Shields is stiff as Dan's wife Tammy and the viewer never truly cares about her character. This guts the emotional resonance of Dan's eventual epiphany. Conversely, Matt Prokop plays Dan's son, Tyler, as entirely melodramatic and almost over-the-top. Sure, it might be realistic for a teenager, but it plays poorly in a movie already dragged down by clumsy dialogue and the most banal poop and groin-pounding jokes since America's Funniest Home Videos. Brendan Fraser holds his own with the virtual characters, but one suspects he has that skill from Looney Tunes: Back In Action. Most of the rest of the cast falls flat, frequently looking in directions other than where their eyeline ought to be or without the necessary emotional reaction for what their characters ought to be seeing at the time.

As for the special effects, the final nail in this film's coffin is that the effects are decidedly mixed. There are moments the virtual animals work fine, but too often, they are lit awkwardly (as if they are lit from all over) or move in ways that make them seem more like animated characters than the "real" characters they are supposed to be in the context of the movie. That said, the effects have their moments, but more often than not, they fall flat.

Finally, the other big special effect is just annoying. Furry Vengeance is populated with an intrusive soundtrack that seems to win back the kids bored by the visuals. When it is not busy telegraphing the emotions, the soundtrack is just playing loud, popular music. Director Roger Kumble seems to have no sense of balance in this regard and the result is just a true and pure disappointment.

Hold out for the new Shrek movie if you're a parent: Furry Vengeance is not worth the time or attention of any audience!

For other films featuring Brendan Fraser, please check out my reviews of:
G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra
Gods And Monsters


For other film reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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