Furry Vengeance: The title’s cute, right? And concise, too, since this family-oriented comedy celebrates small animals in the wild (yay!) who join tiny paws to thwart the schemes of a greedy real estate developer (boo!) who’s attempting to tear up a nice green forest and turn it into a tacky, beige housing development (hiss!).
In the movie’s strenuously slapsticky lesson plan, though, the methods of justice meted out by squeaking, nibbling, and chirping creatures are a little less adorable: Most of the guerrilla warfare is aimed at the crotch and nearby orifices of Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser), a doughy, goofy, run-of-the-mill ecological hypocrite assigned to oversee construction on behalf of his screechy capitalist boss (Ken Jeong). Another specimen in Fraser’s notable collection of male blockheads (and I say that as a fan of the subspecies as Fraser plays ‘em), Dan exasperates his wife (Brooke Shields), embarrasses his teenage son (Matt Prokop), and is certainly in need of enlightenment. But I’m not convinced that repeated assaults to the groin, bee stings to the eyes, raccoon pee in the mouth, or skunk stink sprayed head to toe is the way to teach ecological balance. Or even to amuse pint-size moviegoers, whose first glimpse of the merry mayhem is the sight of a guy in a car being forced off a cliff. (The guy, an obnoxious tycoon type, is played by former Daily Show comedian Rob Riggle, but still: What works in a Looney Tunes animation looks creepy in live action.)
Still, it’s refreshing that the animals don’t talk. That’s a nice, rare show of restraint on the part of director Roger Kumble (Cruel Intentions) and screenwriters Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert (Mr. Woodcock). It’s nice, too, that hip comic actors dropped by for small roles, among them Angela Kinsey from The Office and The Daily Show’s Samantha Bee. I wonder, did these ladies take the gigs so their own kids could see Mommy in a movie in which a man learns to be green while his groin turns black and blue? C