Dir: Roger Kumble. US. 2010. 91mins


Brendan Fraser makes a play for family audiences with Furry Vengeance, a slapstick misfire of epic proportions. Even by downwardly adjusted expectations and more forgiving standards of movies in which anthropomorphised animals do battle with humans, Furry Vengeance is witless and wince-inducing. Unsuspecting family audiences could be roped in during its debut weekend, but the movie should otherwise sink with deadly word-of-mouth, finding second wind in ancillary markets only as an innocuous video babysitter.

Between this and his last movie, College Road Trip, director Kumble has abandoned any attempts at nuance.

With his wife Tammy (Brooke Shields) and teenage son (Matt Prokop) in tow, construction foreman Dan Sanders (Fraser) moves to Rocky Springs, Oregon, to oversee a new housing development for his demanding boss (Ken Jeong), who wraps himself in eco-friendly bromides without really caring about the environment. As Dan’s crews starts work, Dan becomes the whipping boy for an animal revolt, led by a crafty raccoon. The movie then cycles through a catalogue of familiar debasement, including bee stings, multiple skunk blasts, a full complement of groin shots, and an incident with a porta-potty.

Between this and his last movie, College Road Trip, director Kumble has abandoned any attempts at nuance, instead embracing flatly shot set piece histrionics. Here he awkwardly blends CGI critter effects with animatronics and live-action work.

Of course, Kumble isn’t helped by a script which dependably panders across the board to the lowest common denominator, both in action and dialogue (“Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt”). An hour into the movie, it briefly introduces the notion that Rocky Springs is a special, preserved forest which has throughout time turned back development, but instead of anything interesting this revelation merely becomes a throwaway excuse for a handful of interstitial flashbacks in which Fraser gets humiliated in various costumes (e.g., Viking, puritan, hippie).

Put through the paces of ritualised shaming, Fraser opts for broadness instead of more endearing slow-burn reactions.

The movie ends in surreal fashion with an end credit sequence, set to a pop cover version of Cypress Hill’s Insane in the Brain, in which the cast and crew try to erase audience antipathy through a sheer projection of manic energy, aping everything from old Britney Spears videos to Shields’Blue Lagoon.

Production companies: Summit Entertainment, Participant Media, ImageNation Abu Dhabi

US distribution: Summit Entertainment

Producers: Robert Simonds, Keith Goldberg

Executive producers: Ira Shuman, Brendan Fraser, Jeff Skoll, Mohammed Khalaf, Jonathan King

Screenplay: Michael Carnes & Josh Gilbert

Cinematography: Peter Lyons Collister

Production designer: Stephen Lineweaver

Editor: Lawrence Jordan

Music: Edward Shearmur

Main cast: Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields, Matt Prokop, Ken Jeong, Angela Kinsey, Ricky Garcia