Brendan Fraser has been in goofy films before, but none like this. "George of the Jungle" (1997) had a kind of "Rocky and Bullwinkle" smartness to it, but "Furry Vengeance" (2010) is so dumb you feel a little embarrassed watching Fraser and co-star Brooke Shields. It's like seeing a big-name musical group playing a county fair and trying to rock it like they've still got it. Even the animals don't "have" it in this film.
"Furry Vengeance" is a little like watching a live-action version of the Roadrunner beating up on Wile E. Coyote or Bugs Bunny doing the same to Yosemite Sam or Elmer Fudd. And while it might work in a cartoon short, to see this sort of thing over and over for 92 minutes feels like nothing short of cruelty. If we were the animals, somebody would be calling PETA on our behalf.
Despite scatological humor scattered throughout--(quite literally: a raccoon pees in Fraser's mouth, a grizzly rolls him over in an outhouse so he's spitting toilet paper, etc.)-it wasn't enough to hold my 12-year-old's interest. My eight-year-old daughter was another story. She only said "eww" and "gross" during those moments, but laughed heartily at other times. So the screenplay by Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert ("Mr. Woodcock") apparently speaks to grade school children. To everyone else, it's gibberish.
"Furry Vengeance" is like a live-action version of "Over the Hedge" or "Open Season," where the animals wage war against humans--but without the set-up. We're barely introduced to Fraser as a Chicagoan who works for an allegedly eco-friendly developer and moves his family to a model home in a housing tract under construction in an Oregon wilderness before ol' Dan Sanders starts getting attacked by a raccoon, and, soon after, other animals. The catch is, the animals only seem to attack when he's alone, and so his wife, Tammy (Shields), his son Tyler (Matt Prokop) and everyone else on the construction site thinks he's losing it.
The only other narrative interest comes from a feeble, half-developed sideplot involving Tyler and a local girl named Amber (Skyler Samuels), and a forest-day celebration that Tammy gets roped into doing and ends up resenting when developer Neal Lyman (Ken Jeong) turns it into a carnival that's the perfect setting for him to announce his real plan: to develop the entire area. So the bulk of the movie is basically watching Fraser take his lumps and do seltzer-water type pratfalls. It truly is painful to watch, it's so pathetic. So is the blend of computer animation and live action. When we're limited to a single animal or several critters, the CGI manipulation of the live animals is actually pretty good. And when we're watching just the animals, it's hard not to think "cute" or admire the job that the animal wranglers did in teaching raccoons and skunks to climb into the back of an SUV or hide inside boxes. But it all breaks down in the scenes where there are a lot of animals, and what we see hardly resembles anything real at all. That's probably appropriate, though, because nothing about this film bears any resemblance too reality.
"Furry Vengeance" is one of those films that you watch in disbelief, wondering how anyone could raise $35 million to make it and make a killing at the box office before word-of-mouth could sink it. As is, the film made back just over half of what it cost to make. Filmed in the Ipswich, Danvers, and Topsfield areas of Massachusetts, "Furry Vengeance" offers little comedy, no originality, inconsistent CGI work, and a script that's Razzie-worthy. I don't blame director Roger Kumble ("College Road Trip") for this nonsense. It's the writers who deserve to be sprayed by skunks for giving us this stinker.
I've never been a fan of double-sided discs, because it gives you zero surface to handle except the edges and they always seem more prone to scratching. Summit does something I've never seen before: they offer a Blu-ray version on one side and a DVD version on the other. But doesn't this go against the whole Blu-ray marketing campaign, in which we were told how much sturdier the Blu-ray discs were and how they had thicker coatings to protect them? I'm a little confused here.
"Furry Vengeance" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, which means it sprawls across your entire TV screen. And some of the scenery is indeed sprawlworthy. Colors are bright and true-looking, and black levels are strong. I didn't notice any artifacts or tampering, and while there's a thin layer of film grain in some scenes the overall picture is quite good. Which is something I never thought I'd be saying just 10 minutes into the film. The Blu-ray side features the 1080p version, while the flipside has the standard definition DVD.
The Blu-ray featured audio is an English DTS-HD MA 5.1, with an additional option in Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. It's a pretty vibrant soundtrack that makes full use of all the surround speakers, and with so many pratfalls you have to think the Foley folks were in their glory as they took center sound stage. The bass even has a little rumble to it, while dialogue is clear and precise.
I couldn't watch the bonus features. I just couldn't "bear" them. Listening to Kumble and his stars talk about this film as if it had any importance was more than I could take, and so I quickly pressed "stop" and got the heck out of there. The only other bonus features are a handful of deleted scenes, a gag reel, and two featurettes: "The Pitfalls of Pratfalls" and "Working with Animals." The latter should have been longer, really, because the animal wranglers are the only ones who can take pride in their work.
"Furry Vengeance" is a real stinker, and a film that's sure to earn a few Razzie nominations.