App. # 0430.10/SE17.5
Point of Origin Summit Pictures, through Participant Media
Passage Via Frasier, Brendan – Shields, Brooke
When a piece of cinematic dreck comes along that is readily derided there can be a number of rebuttals offered up by the producers/studio trying to dispel criticism. A horrible lighthearted romp might be defended with the tired shield of, “All comedy is subjective.” If a drama is so blatantly inept as to become laughable the makers might turn around and say the humor was actually intentional farce, (also known as “The Wiseau Defense”). In the case of “Furry Vengeance” the obvious go-to will be, “Well it’s a children’s movie, of course it’s not an Oscar contender!” Yes, but while it may be aimed at children the contents were so bad even kids responded with contempt.
The genesis of this project comes courtesy of two smaller studios. Summit Entertainment is the force behind the monstrously popular “Twilight” series, but their track record apart from teen vampire melodrama is very weak. They partnered with Participant Media, a production company which focuses primarily on movies containing socially relevant, or even activist content. Since Hollywood struggles to find a platform to express political views to the public (insert eye-roll HERE) Participant throws its efforts behind titles that have a “message”, be they documentaries, or fictional object lessons. Case in point, the environmental lessons for kids in this title are not only obvious, they become nearly oppressive.
Despite the teaming of two companies they still had trouble finding backing for a screenplay that was weaker than herbal tea. With no takers in the Burbank area they had to go elsewhere to secure financing – halfway around the world in fact. Sharing title credits here is Imagenation Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of the largest media conglomerate in the United Arab Emirates. Think about that for a moment. This means since nobody wanted to invest in this asinine mess the studios – striving to give us an environmental tale — accepted SAUDI OIL CASH!!! Adding to that, I do not see this debacle doing anything to improve our relations in the Middle East.
What is most confounding is that a company like Participant would actually think this kind of content would be effective in promoting an environmentally friendly message. You become so overwhelmed by the planetary proselytizing that what you behold here is actually cartoonish agitprop. Humans are the problem, of course, and animals are not only righteous creatures with a rightful place on this planet, they are more muchly cleverer than us bipeds. I’m sorry, call me a heartless pragmatist with no heart if you must, but I have to state that as a studio your noble intents will be undercut when you rely so heavily on crotch-shots and toilet humor as your delivery vehicle.
As for my description of things being “cartoonish”, that is not hyperbole. One thing you can say is the writers were environmentally conscious in the way they recycled so much of this content. All the common elements from the Hannah-Barbera glory years are in play here. Anthropomorphic animals star, pratfalls abound, mugging reaction shots are a staple, humor is underscored with music, and animals display savvy and cunning minds over the humans. At least the oil money gave them enough of a budget to avoid the need of having Brendan Fraser running in front of a scrolling background, a la Wally Gator. The problem is those cartoons generally had a six minute running time so this script had to be padded out, meaning many gags are repurposed throughout.
VALIDATION FOR PASSAGE
We open with actor Rob Riggle driving along a scenic roadway. He is an avaricious consumer and enemy of the environment. We know this because he is driving a Porsche, smoking a cigar, and talking on a Blue-Douche headset. He spies a raccoon in the road and speeds up. The raccoon communicates with a ferret up on a hill, and Riggle is next wiped out by a large rolling stone. This came courtesy of the ferret pushing a pine cone down a ramp, setting off a rustic Rube Goldberg contraption that sent the rock crashing into the car. This sets up the idiocy of how intelligent the forest creatures are in this affair.
Now I know, I am supposed to suspend my disbelief and just accept the farcical premise for the sake of the target audience. But so many of the concepts displayed fall apart not under general scrutiny but because they have layers of ineptitude. For instance, won’t a few of the tykes wonder how these animals set up these contraptions? Won’t some wonder how creatures weighing less than a house cat positioned boulders large enough to blast a sports car off the road? Also, how did they hollow out logs without tools, and fasten wooden framework using twine without opposable thumbs? And just where did the ferret get a telescope to sight-up his target in the first place? These are the kinds of issues you have to accept in order for the plot to be forwarded. To illustrate how strained this will become all the above issues are contained in the pre-title sequence.
Riggle quits his job and sets up the arrival of Dan Sanders (Fraser). Be-robed he steps outside his home to drink in the tranquil morning. Tranquil for him is loud construction surrounding him. See, Dan took over Riggle’s job as project manager of a new housing development in the forest. He moved his sour family from Chicago to live in a model home while he oversees construction. After directing some work Dan goes back in and spots a squirrel munching on a blueberry from his plant, so he uses the sprinklers to chase it off. This prompts the squirrel to go chatter to the raccoon from the intro. The raccoon is something of the forest ring-leader and apparently there is a cross-species line of communication. The further along we go the more the target age of this film is lowered. The animals actually communicate with thought-balloons displayed. Now the lesson for kids becomes all animals exist in harmony with no conflict, and they certainly don’t kill and eat each other. By the second act I expect the script to begin pandering to a 3rd trimester embryo.
Dan sits to have breakfast with his wife on the patio, played by Brooke Shields. She admonishes Dan because he dares eat turkey bacon while two wild turkeys roam their back yard. You could ask how the turkeys might know the difference; I choose to ask why the wife would take this bitchy stance when she was the one to prepare and serve the offensive product in the first place. Next their petulant teenage son comes out (you know, as opposed to non-petulant teens) and he expresses his displeasure at being uprooted from his friends, while Mom is actually making gobbling sounds towards the turkeys. (I swear). Inside dad tries to square things with the kid as the raccoon peers inside, and next it sneaks its way into a picnic basket Dan is taking to his boss, played by the ever-present Ken Jeong. Dan finds out the company plans on expanding the housing project and mowing down the forest. The stowaway raccoon hears this . . . and understands this as well. Uh-huh.
So within minutes the entire premise is firmly in place, the plot nothing more than a preordained blueprint which must be adhered to, with random physical gags and clownish reaction shots and animated animal reactions inserted to fill up dead spots in the plot like so much unfunny spackle. Fraser commits himself to this effort, willing himself to partake in any number of embarrassing and humiliating acts in order to wring what scant few drops of mirth might be found in this dusty script. Detracting from this effort however is Fraser appearing rather bloated, at times resembling a hung-over frat boy. He’s rather departed from his hale countenance seen during his run in “The Mummy” franchise.
Basically the remaining film comprises of the animals getting together and deciding to focus their energies on Dan and do anything possible to prevent the development of their forest. During one “speech” to his allies the raccoon has a thought-balloon displaying Mel Gibson in war paint; I guess the producers felt a large number of toddlers have seen “Braveheart”. Dan bears the brunt of a ceaseless barrage of attacks, the animal’s efforts aided by the fact nobody else believes he is being targeted by the local wildlife. The animals begin sneaking into the home, his car, and all other involvements. It has been remarked that repetition is the death of art. According to director Roger Kumble however it is the wellspring of all humor, as gags and pratfalls get presented repeatedly here in the name of comedy. This begins a seemingly endless string of gaffes where we watch Fraser fall ass-over-wheat-grass as a result.
Next on tap we get one scene where skunks sneak into Dan’s truck and gas him. I guess they also sealed the doors shut, somehow – maybe?
This leads to a lengthy stretch, where the animals steal all of Dan’s suits so he has to dress in his wife’s clothes, with Yum-Yum displayed across his more-than-ample ass.
But as harrowing as that image was it did not compare to having to see Fraser naked in a tub, slathered in tomato sauce.
It would be at this time that I remind you this film was positioned as a child’s offering. Considering this visual gave me night terrors I can only imagine the adolescent therapy bills this scene inspired. And then to top it off Fraser gets back in his truck and drives off, only to have a remaining skunk on board so we get served a repeat of that unfunny business.
This is not even the worst scene. Since Dan is in women’s clothing and smells of skunk he has to conduct a meeting with his boss by phone on the runway outside the corporate jet. A cartoon stork swoops in to attack him and rather than take refuge in the truck he runs down the tarmac, shrieking while still on the phone.
This causes the boss to start shrieking in Korean (uh, what?!) and then Dan throws his phone at the stork before jumping into a bush, of course. The bush of course has a beehive in it. Dan, of course, is allergic.
And on it goes. Dan at one point decides to fight back, outfitting the yard with dozens of traps to ensnare his aggressors. You get a peek into the man’s mind here – half of the traps are adorned with signs for the animals to read. His wife wisely sends him to a therapist and during the visit he witnesses a passel of rodents stealing his truck. Oh, and as he tries to retrieve it we have ANOTHER skunk-in-the-truck scene. That night Dan’s son gives him research showing how the region has a history of people who tried to populate the area only to be run off by the area varmints. This setup is so we can see Fraser in a variety of moronic period costumes as he becomes attacked by animal puppets which he is manipulating himself. It would all be sad, if it was not so dispiriting.
While checking his traps a bear chases him off his property and he takes refuge in a portable bathroom. The end result is as bad as you might imagine — with the distasteful imagery of a wet Fraser in his tightie whities. Later there’s a wrastlin’ match in the woods with the ‘coon, including a tasteful round of the animal biting Fraser in the crotch and then urinating on his face. Then this all culminates in an outdoor forest festival where the animals take over, including storks making a strafing run with bird crap. The forest animals are saved and in the coda we are told Fraser has become the ranger.
Adding to the nonsense we discover over the credits that the opening score had in fact been a slowed down orchestral remake of Cyprus Hill’s “Insane in the Brain”. That’s as good an explanation for what the hell allowed this all to happen as anything.
QUOTES FROM REFERENCES
- “I’m Mr. Pee-Pee pants!” –Dan, after animals vandalize the sprinklers so they spray his crotch.
- “MYLEY CYRUS!!!” — A shrieking Fraser as he’s almost wiped out by a boulder (Lifting from Steve Carrell’s “40 Year Old Virgin”)
- “Polly want a cracker?!” — Dan perplexedly shouting at an attacking stork.
- “Super Yummy!” — Sign posted on an animal trap.
It is difficult to reconcile this affair. The only people who might have enjoyed this would be those very young kids who have never seen a movie before — or a cartoon for that matter. Basically they would have had to been complete shut-ins to garner any enjoyment, so you are talking about pre-adolescent agoraphobics – not those likely motivated with an environmental message. Hard to save the world when you don’t ever get out of the house.
The takeaway here – that animals are smarter – is actually believable when you consider the creative forces on this film. But then those same idiots are the ones telling us this canard, so your brain is now essentially knotted over the illogic. Their socially conscious ideals even managed to be trampled by the tasteless poster. The image of Fraser in a literal bear-hug, appearing to be violated, is a palpable image. The concept of ursine anal-rape is not far removed from the experience of the audience watching this offense.
APPLICATION STATUS APPROVED