I can’t help but pray that the recent spate of stars making bad movies doesn't imply a trend. Just last week local multiplexes were hosed with J.Lo’s return to film with her celluloid abortion (The Back-Up Plan), and now along comes Brendan Fraser (apparently on the Luke Wilson diet) for his turn to pop a squat on audiences’ chests.
The fact that it comes from the director of Cruel Intentions is totally beside the point. While you can’t exactly expect fine art from director Roger Kumble, his latest adventure into bad taste, Furry Vengeance, will probably have children howling in laughter, but will leave any self respecting grown up wishing they were sitting through anything starring Miley Cyrus instead.
While Brendan Fraser has been continuing his streak of diminishing returns (Extraordinary Measures, Inkheart, and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) the real blame rests solely on director Kumble and screenwriters Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert. While Kumble gave us the atrocities of Cruel Intentions 2, The Sweetest Thing, Just Friends, and College Road Trip, it’s not a good sign when your writing team’s only previous credit is for Mr. Woodcock.
In the film, Dan Sanders (Fraser) has just relocated his family to the middle of the forest of Rocky Springs. His wife Tammy (Brooke Shields) is playing the supportive spouse and is trying to make the best of things, but their son Tyler (Matt Prokop) loathes being stranded in the woods with no friends and just wants to return home to Chicago. The family can't, however, as Dan has been hired for a one-year stint as a real estate developer for Neal Lyman (Ken Jeong) after the last man in charge of the development (an uncredited Rob Riggle) goes missing.
We get to see what happened to Riggle’s character in a wacky Rube Goldberg trap set up by the local wildlife. His car is slammed with a boulder and sent off a cliff when he pisses off the head honcho raccoon for throwing his PG rated, not-lit-until-after-thrown-out-the-window cigar into a pile of leaves. That’s right, the local wildlife are residing on a nature preserve and it’s being demolished day by day.
Later, Tyler is conveniently directed to a book of ancient folklore by his new girlfriend Amber (Skyler Samuels, whose character seems to be the only one who realizes how bad a film this is). The book explains everything to Dan, who learns that nature should be left alone and that Lyman’s plans to wipe out the forest in the name of luxury need to be stopped, conveniently after Dan learns that the animals are only trying to protect their own families.
Summit Entertainment and audiences alike have the Twilight Saga’s success to thank for the studio churning out such movies as this and last month’s Remember Me. Although you could blame Participant Media for financing these kinds of films; they have a reputation to uphold for bankrolling propaganda-type films disguised as mainstream entertainment for the lowest common denominator. This is a movie that’s so dumb, the characters and woodland creatures both think in comic strip cartoon bubbles; it assumes all animals understand English but speak their own language amongst themselves as if they’re some kind of displaced natives.
Kumble must at least be given credit for possibly saving the studios some production costs as there’s not one, but at least two obvious scenes where previous footage is replayed with different sound looping. This isn’t a smart filmmaking strategy, this is sheer laziness, especially given how plainly obvious it all is. It’s like the movie is having its own déjà vu and you’re stuck watching it play out.
But if you’re of a mind to save a buck or two on something, maybe you should spend those savings elsewhere. Anyone who’s convinced that any of the animals featured in the group shots are in the same shot has never seen a special effect before. And what’s a vulture doing in the middle of the woods anyway? Not to mention a whole kettle flying in like a poop-bombing air squadron.
At one point Tammy says to Dan (while her eyes wrestle to keep her caterpillar eyebrows from scampering off) something about having “a string of bad luck.” One can’t help but wonder if it was Shields’ personal observation on their own career paths. Later in the film she also says to Dan, “How could things possibly get any worse?” If you were to take a gander at your watch at this moment you realize you still have another half hour of runtime left as Dan gets either hosed down by skunks or peed in his mouth by the lead raccoon. If you pay to see something of this ilk, you too deserve the same fate, dear viewers. You’ve been warned.