Animals Gone Wild. But not Funny.
By Roxana Hadadi
Watching “Furry Vengeance” raises a lot of questions about the nature of Hollywood. For example, how did director Roger Kumble go from creating the fantastic, sensually inappropriate “Cruel Intentions” to crafting a movie about fake-looking animals attacking a fake-looking Brendan Fraser? And speaking of Fraser: Wasn’t he a believable leading man once? That was the entire point of “The Mummy” series, right?
Those mental puzzles are just a few of the conundrums raised by “Furry Vengeance,” the latest family-friendly film with a similarly amicable environmental message. Distributed by Summit Entertainment, the same studio behind the “Twilight” series, “Furry Vengeance” goes down an expected road with expected results: Big bad developer invades the forest, animals fight back, citizens with morals realize their mistake and try to make things right for both the animals and themselves. If you’ve seen the trailer for “Furry Vengeance,” you’ve seen the whole film – and you’re better off not spending money for it.
The movie’s main misstep is that it’s simply not very funny. A reliance on physical humor and gag jokes, such as Fraser’s character getting attacked by skunks, stung by bees and defecated on by birds, make “Furry Vengeance” more corny than hilarious, and the dialogue isn’t much better – Fraser had solid comic timing in “The Mummy” movies, but the script here doesn’t give him much to work with. It paints him as a career-oriented go-getter turned animal antagonist, with the main crux of the jokes being that no one believes his insistence that the forest critters are out to get him. After about the third or fourth time his wife Tammy (Brooke Shields) and son Tyler (Matt Prokop) look at him in unsympathetic disbelief, the premise just gets old – much like the entire film.
“Furry Vengeance” begins by introducing us to the corporate greed of Lyman Enterprises, the company planning to develop Rocky Springs, a lush serene forest that dozens of animals call home. But those squirrels, raccoons and other four-legged fiends aren’t as cute and cuddly as they first look: Instead, they plan the death of Riggs (Rob Riggle, “Gary). a Lyman Enterprises employee who calls the area “prime-A real estate” before his car, hit by a boulder rolled down a hill by the animals, topples off a cliff. These animals don’t play around.
And they bring that same violently territorial approach to Riggs’ replacement, Dan (Fraser) who moves his family from Chicago to a huge model home in the middle of the forest; his main responsibility is to oversee the construction of the homes in the rest of the neighborhood. But while he is happy about the family’s relocation, seeing the move as a huge opportunity for getting on the good side of his boss, head honcho Neal Lyman (Ken Jeong), his family is just waiting out the year until they’re able to move back to the Windy City. Plus, as the months pass, Tammy and Tyler can’t stand the man Dan is becoming: He defends the company because it classifies itself as “green,” but doesn’t see the hypocrisy in the company tearing down acres of forest to build a shopping mall with a forest theme. And when he agrees to stay in Rocky Springs for four more years when Lyman offers him a promotion, Tammy and Tyler are furious.
Angrier than them, though, are the animals – immediately, they move to defend their home. Led by a raccoon, other critters – like skunks, crows, squirrels, foxes and beavers – begin acting out various plans to drive Dan crazy. First they rearrange his home’s sprinkler system so his crotch gets sprayed with water. Then they steal all his clothes, forcing him to embarrassedly tiptoe to his SUV (of course) in one of Tammy’s too-small pink velour sweatsuits. After that, skunks crawl into his car and spray him numerous times with their foul stench. Birds tap on his windows on night, not letting him sleep, while others relieve themselves all over his car. And then there’s the scene where a bear chases him into a portable toilet, which then somehow ends up in a tree; of course, he’s covered in filth when he finally gets out. That image isn’t explicitly shown, but it’s almost worse that Kumble leaves it up to our imagination.
Unsurprisingly, all the animals’ actions eventually lead Dan to realize that Lyman Enterprises may not be doing the right thing by bringing jobs and development to Rocky Springs, and he and his family jump into action to save the community – but will they be too late? If you know anything about happy endings, you know the answer.
Simply put, watching “Furry Vengeance” won’t be a happy ending for most people. The film may be funny for young children, with the animals’ silly plots and thought bubbles signifying their conversations, but every actor here seems wasted – especially Jeong, who just reverts into his goofy character from “The Hangover” instead of bringing anything new to the role of Lyman, as well as Angela Kinsey from “The Office,” who plays Lyman’s domineering assistant – and the effect of digitally modifying the animals’ facial expressions is bizarre, as well. There’s nothing here that will really offend children or their parents, but there’s nothing memorable, either – if you really need to teach your children about environmentalism, rent “FernGully: The Last Rainforest.” You’re better off.
Roxana Hadadi last reviewed “The Losers.”