On the sliding critter- comedy scale, Furry Vengeance falls somewhere between the Chipmunks and the Chihuahua (the one from Beverly Hills).
If its scheming woodland creatures, slapstick violence, bird poop and Porta-John gags don't do anything for you when you take your kids, just chant this little mantra: "It's not for me, it's for them ... not for me, for them."
Brendan Fraser is well-meaning developer Dan who has moved his wife (Brooke Shields, given nothing funny to do) to a new subdivision carved in the middle of a pristine forest. He endures the abuse and "We're a green company" spin from his boss (Ken Jeong, amusing) for the chance to live in a McMansion in the middle of "Phase I" of the development. His wife has settled into a teaching job, but their teen son, Tyler (Matt Prokop), isn't adjusting.
"I feel like I'm stuck in the Disney Channel!" he says.
The future road kill of the forest aren't taking this deforestation lying down.
A raccoon is the animal gang's ringleader, with ferrets, vultures, squirrels and skunks ready to pitch in. They don't talk; they communicate with thought balloons. Their schemes involve the simple (chewing holes in sprinklers so they blast Developer Dan in the crotch) and the complex (catapults).
Director Roger Kumble began his big-screen career with Cruel Intentions, a clever Dangerous Liaisons set in high school, and worked his way down to College Road Trip and now this. He busied himself with an elaborate closing-credits music video with the cast mugging a lip-synced cover of Insane in the Membrane.
There's so little mirth in the message-oriented script (the animals, some with Babe-like digital embellishments, were meant to carry it) that the cast resorts to mugging to find laughs. A bit player exaggerates his Mexican accent, and the Korean-American doctor-turned-comic Jeong bursts into shrill, sing-songy Korean chatter on his cell phone. Kids are never too young to find foreign languages funny.
Thankfully, there's the always kid-friendly Fraser, gamely donning a too-small pink track suit (he's grown a gut), taking the falls and keeping even the naughty bits PG.