With Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields, Matt Prokop, Ken Jeong, Samantha Bee. Directed by Roger Kumble. Rated PG for some rude humor, mild language and brief smoking. 92 minutes.
It’s only spring, but with FURRY VENGEANCE, we may have seen what will prove to be the worst film of the year. If true, this is good news because it means we have nowhere to go but up. Surely, a movie worse than this would require the aggressive stupidity of last year’s contenders, “Old Dogs” and “All About Steve.”
“Furry Vengeance” features Brendan Fraser in his full-on goofy mode. He has proven himself as a dramatic actor (“Gods and Monsters”) and as an action hero (“The Mummy”), but when he gets goofy, the pendulum swings wildly. For every likeable Fraser flick like “Encino Man” or “Blast From The Past,” there seems to be a “Monkeybone” or “Dudley Do-Right” standing by to negate it. When he’s on, Fraser can do comedy well, but he can also become as annoying as a 9-year-old who thinks poop jokes are high hilarity. Unfortunately, that’s the Fraser who shows up here.
He plays Dan Sanders, who is working on a housing development for a company that pretends it’s “green” but is more about the money than the environment. Indeed, his boss Mr. Lyman (Ken Jeong) is so cartoonishly self-absorbed he makes Mr. Burns of “The Simpsons” look like a philanthropist. The idea is that Dan has moved his wife (Brooke Shields) and teenage son (Matt Prokop) to the model home for what’s supposed to be a year long project. Instead, Lyman puts him in charge of clearing the entire forest for houses and a shopping mall.
The local animals don’t like this and led by a raccoon, they declare war on Dan, by any means necessary. The poop jokes are bad enough. This is a movie which thinks that if a man getting sprayed by a skunk is funny once, it must be hilarious if repeated over and over. It isn’t.
The defense for such antics is that this is a kid’s film, and children know that a man having the contents of an outhouse dumped on him is great comedy. So what other lessons will children learn from this movie? Pushing a man in a car off a cliff to his presumed death is funny. Senility is funny and it is even funnier that the old lady teacher can’t be fired because she has tenure. Also good for laughs: bee stings, falling off a roof, being humiliated in front of your family and, when in doubt, more skunks. Is this really great entertainment for children? Perhaps it is for those who can’t distinguish between a cesspool and a playground.
The irony is the filmmakers seem to believe that the message of the film – preserving our natural resources – is so obvious that one need only introduce the cartoon businessman as villain and nothing further need be said. Bleeding heart liberals, like this reviewer, may find themselves in the odd position of wanting to take a chainsaw and go after the obnoxious and sadistic animals. For all the talk of being responsible, no one in the movie seems able to articulate what that might mean.
Pairing Fraser and Shields wasn’t a bad idea, and perhaps someone will come up with a script worthy of their talents. As for “Furry Vengeance,” it seems the animals have already taken their revenge on any humans unfortunate enough to see this film.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books, the most recent being I’ll Have What She’s Having: Behind The Scenes Of The Great Romantic Comedies. He teaches film at Suffolk University and lives in Somerville.