Mystery novelist and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen aimed his book Hoot at young adults, so it’s fitting that the movie version ends up filling the widening generational gap at the cinemas. Adapted by television director Wil Shriner
, this topical tale provides mildly suspenseful and mostly rewarding entertainment the whole family can enjoy.
Everything about Hoot feels relaxed, from the leisurely pace of the central mystery to the laid-back soundtrack of Jimmy Buffet tunes – the singer acts as executive producer and even takes a break from touring the globe to play a high school science teacher. Article continues below
Shriner’s cameras drink in coastal Florida's sun-drenched neighborhoods as budding sleuth Roy (Logan Lerman
), brainy Beatrice (Brie Larson
), and bleach-blonde Mullet Fingers (Cody Linley
) unite to stop pancake-house developers from destroying a colony of burrowing owls.
There’s adult supervision, though the older cast members – from Luke Wilson
and Tim Blake Nelson to Robert Wagner in a brief cameo – are routinely upstaged by the talented young cast. Lerman is instantly appealing as the movie’s underdog lead, the new kid in town forced to dodge a bully (Eric Phillips
) and slowly win over friends. If a studio ever were to get an Encyclopedia Brown film off the ground as discussed, Lerman would be a brilliant selection for the book-smart teen detective, and Larson shows she’s equally qualified to play slugging sidekick Sally.
As for Hoot, it sticks close to its proven formula while touching on relevant subjects such as corporate greed and environmental consciousness. The owls get precious little screen time, showing their cute faces long enough to remind audiences of their value as endangered species. And there’s a bittersweet ending that reveals that the awareness-raising efforts of the good-hearted kids will continue beyond this story.
If nothing else, Hoot will appeal to the future land conservationists in the audience, informing the next generation of protestors and pointing their way to Capitol Hill.