After transplanting his family from Chicago to the Oregon woods for his new job overseeing the construction of a supposedly "eco-friendly" housing development, Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser) thinks his biggest problem will be helping his city-loving wife Tammy (Brooke Shields) and nature-phobic teenaged son (Matt Prokop) adjust to their new surroundings while pleasing his demanding boss (Ken Jeong). But Dan's troubles have only begun once the local animals discover his leadership role in the destruction of their habitat. He soon lands atop their Most Wanted list, and realizes how much trouble a few feisty forest creatures can cause!
The clever critters bedevil Dan night and day, sabotaging his work, his peace of mind—and even his wardrobe. Under this concerted attack, Dan soon finds his onceperfect life in ruins. He completely fails in his efforts to trap, deter or even photograph the animal assault team and without proof of the covert woodland conspiracy against him, no one believes Dan's claims. With his wife and son poised to abandon him, and his construction project in jeopardy, Dan escalates the feud to all-out intra-species war that can only have one winner.
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Brendan Fraser used to be an amiable goofball, equal parts charming and self-effacing. In movies like the underrated 'George of the Jungle' and the first two 'Mummy' movies, he made bumbling everyman characters that you really, really liked, even if they were caught in the midst of swirling, cacophonous special effects. And what's more, his ventures out to dramatic roles in things like Bill Condon's 'Gods & Monsters' and Phillip Noyce's 'The Quiet American,' seemed refreshing and bold, proof that he was an honest-to-goodness actor. But now, everything seems like pure calculation (or utter desperation).
The "amiable goofball" performance has given way to flat-out buffoonery, and the dramatic roles seem like deliberate counter-programming, at least while he waits around for the higher-ups to make another 'Mummy' or 'Inkheart' movie. Case in point: this spring's medical drama 'Extraordinary Measures,' which looked like a saccharine remake of 'Sophie's Choice' (or 'Lorenzo's Oil') and received pitiful reviews, opened alongside 'Furry Vengeance,' a movie in which Fraser is menaced, for the better part of 90 minutes, by woodland critters.
'Furry Vengeance' was produced by Participant Media, the company responsible for such thoughtful movies as 'An Inconvenient Truth' and 'Syriana.' This year they decided to branch out into more commercial fare, co-funding the ridiculously underappreciated remake of 'The Crazies,' as well as family eco-comedy 'Furry Vengeance.' They thought they could turn heads in the multiplex as well as in the art house, but it's hard to see what prompted them to support this dreck.
The story of 'Furry Vengeance' is simple, almost embarrassingly so: Fraser plays Dan Sanders, a real estate developer who works for Neal Lyman ("Doctor" Ken Jeong). Sanders is given the task of assessing and then following-through on a planned development community that would decimate the local forest. Everyone seems appalled by Sanders' actions, including his son and wife (played by Brooke Shields, which reminded me that, yes, Brooke Shields is still alive). But no one is more disappointed by Sanders' actions than the local creatures that live in the nearby woods.
All manner of furry and clawed and winged beast come after Sanders in increasingly outlandish and unfunny ways. This is like sub-basement-level vaudeville here, kids, with some grip off camera throwing a stuffed raccoon at a formerly A-list movie star's face. Yes, there are a lot of real life animals who do some really amazing things, including a rampaging bear that reminded me that I need to watch 'The Edge' again soon, but it isn't nearly enough to save 'Furry Vengeance,' which seems to break down on an almost molecular level every second that the movie goes along.
If you thought 'Inception' was nightmarish, then you will undoubtedly be dazzled by a dream sequence in which anthropomorphic animals dance around Fraser's living room and then he wakes up and Brooke Shields' is covered in ridiculous raccoon-woman makeup. (It's a dream-within-a-dream! Mind-blowing!) There's also a series of "historical flashback" sequences where Fraser dresses up in a variety of Halloween costumes that seem to have been aquired from the local Party City (Viking! Hippie!) and is beat up by a stuffed raccoon.
But the worst thing about the movie is how these silly asides, far from being an embellishment of the movie's core theme of environmentalism and doing the right thing, become the movie itself. There's a sort of interesting sub-plot about the developer saying it's environmentally friendly when really it's not (commonly known as "green-washing"), but it barely registers after we've seen Fraser caught in a locked car with a skunk that unleashes a billowy plume of stink.
The actor, who used to oscillate so easily between drama and numbskullery has been trapped by the latter. His character, while fully acknowledging that he is doing very, very bad things to very, very cute creatures, never really does anything to stop the development plans. It's kind of like the movie itself: fully aware that it should be addressing something else, but stuck in a self-destructive pattern.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Furry Vengeance' is housed on a "flipper" disc, with the DVD version on one side of the disc and the dual layer Blu-ray on the other. This is such a dumb format, it's not even worth mentioning, and it's not going to sell anybody who's on the fence about Blu-ray. Why would it? If you have a DVD copy of the movie in addition, then at least you can give that version out or let a family member watch it in another part of the house. I really hope this is a very short-lived trend and nothing more. It should also be noted that there is an insert in the case, which I don't remember being there for 'The Ghost Writer,' that explains via graphics and text, proof that no one understands what this stupid combo disc is all about.
The MPEG-4 AVC-encoded 1080p video (aspect ratio: 1.78:1) is about what you'd expect from something like this: shiny, overlit, without nuance or character, but genuinely clean and error-free.
Is there anything "technically" wrong with this transfer? Well, no. Detail is strong, both on the fuzzy creatures (you can count the hairs on the raccoons that zip around) and on the general woodland atmosphere of the movie. Skin tones generally look good, and black levels are very deep and inky. But the movie itself was shot with such garish blandness that I cannot recommend this transfer, even if it is an adequate reproduction of the original film.
There aren't any real technical issues to speak of, and I guess if you really want to see the pastel hue of bird poop pop, then this is probably the transfer for you. (Interestingly, this was shot using the RED digital camera, which has been used for 'Che,' 'District 9,' and David Fincher's upcoming 'The Social Network.')
Again, like the video, there isn't anything outwardly wrong or wobbly about the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix on 'Furry Vengeance,' it's just that the mix (again) lacks subtlety or any kind of refinement or depth. Still, hearing shrieking animals coming at you in crystal clear sound has to appeal to somebody. Right? Right?
Yes, it's nice that the surround channels are used, mostly when our doofus hero is under attack from flying or scampering creatures. But still. There are implications of depth, but to me it felt more one-dimensional than it's supposed to. Like someone was in the back of the room at a switchboard pressing buttons labeled "squawk" or "growl" every few minutes. It's not what I would describe as "immersive."
Dialogue, though, is crisp and clear throughout and is always well prioritized amongst the cacophonous nonsense going on. Not that I was expecting a lot from this movie, but it could have been a lot better.
There is also a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the disc, and subtitles are available in English SDH and Spanish.
There is a small sprinkling of special features, which appear on both the DVD and Blu-ray sides of the disc. There is nothing in the way of Blu-ray-exclusive special features, and the disc is not BD-Live equipped.
If you hate yourself, or hate your family, you'll watch (or make them watch) the agonizing 'Furry Vengeance.' While you might be jazzed about a movie with cute characters that openly preaches the virtues of environmentalism and general thoughtfulness, you could probably do with fewer poop jokes. Like no poop jokes, say. Instead of any kind of forward-thinking power, the movie is a reductive collection of boneheaded physical gags and moments where Brendan Fraser is terrorized, time and time again, by various animal foes. The video and audio do a good job of replicating the movie's Hollywood phoniness, and the extras are by and large forgettable filler, much like the movie. If you see 'Furry Vengeance' emerging from the forest (or video store), run away screaming.