(by Dustin Putman
Without an ounce of hyperbole, it can be firmly and confidently stated that it has been years since a so-called "family film" has been as absolutely loathsome, moronic, and without redemption as "Furry Vengeance." Directed by Roger Kumble (2008's "College Road Trip"), a filmmaker who began his career with promise in 1999's "Cruel Intentions" and 2002's "The Sweetest Thing" before selling his soul in exchange for being able to maintain a solid annual salary, this latest picture is so obnoxious, so inept, so vile, so distasteful, and so unfunny that it should successfully act as repellent for all audience members outside of humanoid sewer dwellers who have never seen a movie before and may be attracted to the sight of moving images. Of all the things viewers expect from the cinema, that is just about the only requirement which "Furry Vengeance" has gotten right: there is, indeed, movement on the celluloid. Article continues below
When the blueprints for in-construction housing community Rocky Springs grow increasingly elaborate and threaten the surrounding forests and woodland creatures, the feral animals aren't about to see their woodsy home decimated. Their plan: drive the bulldozers away by terrorizing Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser), a hypocritically green land developer hailing from Chicago who has moved wife Tammy (Brooke Shields) and teenage son Tyler (Matt Prokop) out to the middle of nowhere while he oversees the construction of the development. Let the war between man and wildlife begin.
As directed by Roger Kumble and written by Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert (2007's "Mr. Woodcock")—the image of grown men actually sitting down and writing a word of what has ended up on the screen is enough to send those who have seen it into disbelieving hysterics—"Furry Vengeance" contains less a narrative than a string of painful and/or inappropriate and/or gross and/or cruel slapstick skits strung together by a plot that could kindly be described as dim-witted. The film opens with the murder of a cigar-chomping land developer, who gets sent careening off a cliff by way of the forest animals' devious Rube Goldberg contraption. Minutes later, the audience gets treated to a disturbing photograph of a human corpse, eyes open and lifeless, who has just succumbed to a poisonous snake's bite. Are we having a good time yet?
From there, the picture goes downhill—yes, downhill—with a cavalcade of human humiliation, gross racial, ethnic and sexist profiling, and violent pratfalls posing as broad, all-in-good-fun comedy. In scene succession, Dan falls off chairs; gets catapulted from a treadmill when a raccoon pulls the plug; is nearly killed in an animal-caused auto accident ("Miley Cyrus!" he screams for no reason, in the place of exclamation "Jesus Christ!"); is urinated and defecated on; receives a facial when a skunk sprays him with musk—twice; gets beaten up by that same rascally raccoon; is hunted by a grizzly bear; gets mistaken for a transvestite when construction workers spot him through the window with a lacy bra on, and subsequently wears his wife's pink sweats out in public with the words, "Yum Yum," written on the back. In the midst of all this physical action—one dares not call it humor, since it never garnered a single laugh from a screening room of adults and children alike—there are shameful displays of insensitive stereotyping against Native Americans and Asians, homophobic jokes of gay panic, a debasing portrayal of a senile elderly lady (Alice Drummond), and a scene where one woman punches another one out in order to steal her car. There's more—plenty more—where all this comes from, but for an accurate idea of what's in store for prospective victims/viewers, imagine that kind of material multiplied by five and taking up a good 80 minutes of the 92-minute running time. The remaining twelve minutes are dedicated to arguments between Dan and his family, a forced and stilted romance between Tyler and tree-hugging classmate Amber (Skyler Samuels), and an end credits montage where the cast frolic and sing along to a cover version of Cypress Hill's pot anthem "Insane in the Brain."
The intended moral of this empty, miserable, heartless mess, one supposes, is the importance of forest and wildlife conservation. Overshadowing this environmental notion, however, is the wrongheaded message that basic values and common decency are negligible while physical force and potentially life-threatening violence are the answers to getting what you want. The animals on display are never cute and cuddly, but outright monsters who are just as bad, if not more so, than the humans. As for the latter half of the cast, Brendan Fraser (2010's "Extraordinary Measures") reaches a new low in his career here, his whole purpose to get knocked around and hurt by the nature surrounding him, and Brooke Shields (1999's "The Bachelor") appears happy simply to have been cast in a major feature film—even if it is one of the most insufferable to hit theaters in the last five or ten years. About midway through "Furry Vengeance," Shields' Tammy remarks, "I just don't think this can get any worse." She's wrong, God help us. It does.