Directed by: Roger Kumble (College Road Trip)
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields, Ken Jeong, Matt Prokop, Ricky Garcia, Wallace Shawn
Had audiences in 1895 any notion that the flickering images presented by the Lumière brothers would one day evolve into the medium that would bring the world Furry Vengeance, they’d have dragged the brothers into the street and hanged them. (Well, being in France, I guess they’d have guillotined them.) If the Spanish Inquisition were still in business, they’d probably dig the Lumières up and subject what’s left of them to some retroactive atrocities. This is the kind of movie that makes you ashamed to like movies at all. We’re not even halfway through the year yet, but it’s going to be a struggle to beat this one for Worst Picture of the Year. This isn’t just bad. This is mind-rottingly reprehensible and vile—not to mention stupefyingly unfunny and embarrassing.
If you’ve been lucky enough to miss the trailers (in which case, you might think the movie is about some esoteric dress-up games—it’s not), Furry Vengeance presents us with the story of Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser). Dan has uprooted his wife Tammy (Brooke Shields) and son Tyler (Matt Prokop, High School Musical 3) from their Chicago home to rusticate in the wilds of Oregon, where he’s overseeing the construction of an “ecologically friendly” housing development. The family objects to being there. The woodland creatures object to them being there—especially after learning that Dan’s boss, Neal Lyman (Ken Jeong, All About Steve), plans to develop the entire forest out of existence.
The upshot of all this? The animals—with the aid of truly awful animatronics and the worst CGI I have ever seen—are going to revenge themselves on Dan. By my reckoning, this consists of Dan suffering three shots to the crotch, two dousings of skunk spray in the face, innumerable attacks of bird droppings, a bout of poison ivy, a bath in Porta-John effluvia and a golden shower in the mouth from a raccoon. This is the state of “family entertainment” in 2010. There is also a battle of wits between Dan and a crow. (Since Fraser agreed to appear in this film, it’s no contest.) To add to the alleged hilarity, no one but Dan and the audience sees what’s going on, so it’s assumed by everyone else in the movie that he’s losing his mind. (Insert unfunny, pointless cameo by Wallace Shawn as a shrink here.)
Of course, before it’s all over, Dan will learn that his boss is a lying scumbag, Dan will team-up with the animals, his family will learn he’s not crazy—and everyone will perform “Insane in the Brain” in parodies of music videos to accompany the ending credits. This last presupposes anyone is still in the theater, which strikes me as extremely wishful thinking.
It’s impossible to convey just how bad the screenplay by Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert is. Even realizing that these are the boys who wrote Mr. Woodcock (2007) cannot prepare you for the wretchedness of this thing. On top of everything else, they penned a scene where Matt Prokop manages to say “What up, brother,” “dude” and “bro” in two lines of dialogue. The Geneva Convention people should be made aware of this.
Roger Kumble’s direction is no better. It apparently consisted of arriving on the set thinking, “How can we humiliate Brendan Fraser today?” and “Is there a bodily fluid we haven’t used yet?” His creative inspiration otherwise seems to consist of sticking the Electric Light Orchestra’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” on the sound track for no very good reason—except to possibly counteract the aggressive use of blandly generic alt-rock songs and the horribly “cute” score by Edward Shearmur. (Then again, I understand Kumble used the same song on his last movie, so maybe he just likes it a lot.) Beyond that, the film feels excessively cheap. It even manages to recycle the same footage of the animals’ Rube Goldberg device later on in the movie for rolling a boulder onto oncoming cars.
And then there is the cast. I understand why Brooke Shields looks annoyed: She had to make the movie. I only watched it and I’m annoyed. Fraser, however, is just appalling in his nonstop mugging, and it’s very hard to understand why he insists on showing off how out of shape he is whenever possible. The days when he sometimes made films like Gods and Monsters (1998) and The Quiet American (2002) are but a rapidly dimming memory. I wish I could say the same for this movie. Rated PG for some rude humor, mild language and brief smoking.