A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this family comedy is filled with animal jokes, pratfalls, and over-the-top sight gags, many of which involve animals provoking Brendan Fraser's character. Most of the violence is limited to skunk spray, animal pee, and bee-sting reactions, as well as the protagonist dad falling and hurting himself in every fashion imaginable. Apple dominates the product placements, with a Macbook, iPhone, or iPod visible in several scenes throughout the film. There's no sexuality outside of mild flirting, a quick kiss, and a couple of hugs -- nothing even remotely inappropriate for a PG movie. The messages of the movie are positive -- people shouldn't sacrifice their beliefs for work, and communities should take care of the animals in their midst -- but they're also secondary to the cartoonish "vengeance" the animals impart.
What's the story?
Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser) has relocated his family (wife Tammy is played by Brooke Shields; son Tyler by teen cutie Matt Prokop) from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest to oversee the construction of a new housing development for his ambitious boss, "green" real-estate tycoon Neal Lyman (Ken Jeong). Lyman, of course, is far from eco-friendly and wants to tear down a local forest to build even more subdivisions and a "forest-themed" mall, but the woodland animals, led by a clever raccoon, communicate with each other to terrorize Dan into stopping the destruction of their home habitat.
Is it any good?
This movie's filled with so many cliches, predictable sight gags, and lazily written dialogue that it's difficult to take it seriously. At the very least, the clever little animals in FURRY VENGEANCE don't talk; that's about all that can be said for it. Even the "pay attention to the animals" message is buried under a puddle of raccoon pee. While kids might giggle, there are far better choices for eco-friendly family films.
Despite co-starring usually hilarious comedians like Jeong and The Office star Angela Kinsey, most of the jokes fall flat, although Jeong is so naturally funny that sometimes just looking at him is enough to elicit a laugh or two. It's especially difficult to watch Fraser -- the former swashbuckling action hero who starred in (the first two) The Mummy films. He looks awkward and ill-at-ease in this father role (even though he has quite the large family of his own). Right about the third time the skunks trapped in his character's SUV sprayed his face, it's hard not to feel downright sorry for him.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the environmental message of the movie. What are the filmmakers trying to say about what it really means to be "green"? Was the real estate development company actually eco-friendly or just pretending to be? How "green" do you think the movie business is?
In what ways can we help protect animals and their habitats? What is the solution that Dan and his family come up with in the movie? Is it realistic?
How does Dan's work affect his family? Does he do a good job of juggling his work responsibilities with his family? How does your family manage work, school, and family commitments?
- In theaters: April 30, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: August 16, 2010
- Cast: Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields, Ken Jeong, Matt Prokop
- Director: Roger Kumble
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Wild animals
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some rude humor, mild language and brief smoking
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