Brendan Fraser has a long history of avoiding sharing screen time with real actors, seemingly much more into acting against cartoons, puppets or CGI mummies. Here he is the lead in Furry Vengeance, a loud, unnecessary film that has co-opted the Home Alone script, replacing that annoying brat with a heard of ticked off forest animals. Fraser plays Dan Sanders a work exhausted suburban developer who, we gather, was never really playing with a full deck to begin with. After moving his family closer to nature he, at the behest of his boss Neal (Ken Jeong), begins tearing down trees to make room for pricey new homes. The aforementioned animals are less that pleased to see their homes replaced by ones for humans so they use their vastly superior intellect to drive Dan right through the wringer, forcing him to suffer one ass kicking humiliation after another.
If that all sounds like something you might want to avoid then you should know that all signs point to you being in the majority. How this idea was ever deemed worthy, much less financed, remains a mystery. However, all told, it’s not quite as bad as you might expect. Used as a diversion/time waster for you or your children it does what it needs to do to make an hour and a half disappear. That old Candid Camera trick where the animals do amazing things to somebody up until the very second that somebody else is looking is used too often, but most of the audience will be too young to remember that show. There’s also a charming little homage to Braveheart but, alas, that too is a bit dated. What the kids can hopefully take away is a message of environmental conservation and a stiff dose of distrust for authority.
The film has trouble maintaining any type of relationship with quality or comedy but, strangely enough, it nails the relationships between characters. The marriage of Dan and Tammy (Brooke Shields, who while no spring chicken still seems to have it going on) is grounded and tender despite all the cartoon mayhem that keeps erupting around them. There is also the blossoming love between Dan’s son Tyler and a girl named Amber from the neighborhood. It’s a lazy attempt by writers Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert to provide the script with some canned conflict as Dan’s career really chafes against Amber’s pro-environment sensibilities, but the ways in which the young adults swap hobbies and grow together is quite touching. Director Roger Kumble tries to make it ultimately about Dan’s descent into madness but he never gets a handle on it. Instead try reading it as another critique against those all too common businessmen who convince themselves that evil perpetrated in the name of a paycheck is not really evil at all if that same paycheck is used to but his family consumer goods.
The producers of Furry Vengeance were obviously aiming it directly at suburban audiences which seems strange when you figure that those suburbanites are most likely living on land that was stolen from wildlife. And chances are when they sit down to watch they aren’t going to be cheering for the developers even though their life is better because of people like them. Then again we could consult the box office numbers and realize that in reality this movie hasn’t been able to entice anybody to see it, though we're sure nobody is losing money on this project considering the sheer number of Starbucks and Nintendo ads that can be found within it. Fraser is fine but unable to carry the bulk of the comedic load. Luckily he has some young studs (Rob Riggle, Samantha Bee) and a cagey veteran (Wallace Shawn) on hand to provide backup. There’s also Ken Jeong, our newest comedy hotshot, who steals the show as the out of touch, passive aggressive boss who has made it his life mission to cut the sleaziest business deals in history. He’s made a real habit out of that lately.
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields, Matt Prokop, Ken Jeong
Director: Roger Kumble
Writers: Michael Carnes, Josh Gilbert
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Runtime: 92 minutes
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