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Furry Vengeance

by on April 29, 2010
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As entertaining as a two-hour hot sauce enema without the refreshed feeling afterward, “Furry Vengeance” is the kind of movie that doesn’t make you angry, but feel sorry that recognizable stars had to actually participate in its creation.

Brendan Fraser plasters his worst “it’s a contractual obligation” smile on his face as Dan Sanders, a housing developer who moved his family to a rural Oregon forest to build on the forest land his boss (Ken Jeong) just bought.

But the animals who would be displaced by the community are having none of it, and they’re (apparently) willing to kill to save it. In other words, it’s the meaner live-action remake of “Over the Hedge.”

Which is why they set off a “Mousetrap”-inspired booby trap to incapacitate Dan’s predecessor, and end up purposely knocking him and his car off a cliff. He survives (Looney Tunes style, of course), but is not heard from again, but when Dan puts his face into the proceedings, it’s war.

For the next 40 minutes or so the animals, led by a raccoon, torment, torture, abuse and beat Dan in every way animals can, from fisticuffs to skunk spray to port-o-let abuse. Of course, no one else ever sees it (despite loads of evidence to the contrary), so they assume he’s just cracking under pressure.

The gags, as you may have guessed, is strictly PG-rated stuff we’ve seen from countless Bugs Bunny, Popeye or Tom and Jerry cartoons. Blows to the head, CG animals fistfighting with humans, skunks in the SUV, the usual.

The comedy is squarely aimed at the elementary-school crowd, with a simplistic environmental storyline (let’s not encroach on our furry friends’ habitat, now, or they might kill us) to its overly santized language. It plays like a Disney sitcom pilot if the writers had sustained head injuries before scripting.

The gags are neatly set up in a decided pattern, to the point where they’re practically pointing an arrow at the giant anvil and say “watch this fall on this goof’s head,” and sure enough it does.

Fraser was  never Will Smith, but at one time he was something of a bankable star, which makes it all the sadder to see him descend into Eddie Murphy/Robin Williams realm of crappy kids’ movies. Shields seems wildly out of place and uncomfortable in a slapstick comedy like this.

Jeong (“The Hangover”) can, as he does here, come off as obnoxious and ridiculous, and Angela Kinsey (“The Office”), as Jeong’s assistant, had me wondering what in the world Felicity Huffman was doing in this movie. Both are slumming in paycheck roles and each are capable of much more than they gave (and were given) here.

As cynical though I may be, I will admit to laughing a time or two, but two with (almost literally) 100 misses is a poor hit rate for a comedy, even a tepid family one. For the record, my 5-year-old son accompanied me and repeatedly asked during the movie to go home, but reported liking it at the end.

If you are thinking about taking your kids to see this, do yourselves a favor: go see “How to Train Your Dragon” instead. If you’ve already seen “Dragon,” go see it again. But don’t give the makers of this film the financial incentive to make another one like it.

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