Even as their parents fidget restlessly in their seats, small children easily amused by precocious animals and pratfalling grown-ups may have a dandy time with “Furry Vengeance.” But there’s little hope that this broadly played, lamely written and overall overbearing comedy will corral many ticketbuyers old enough for solo jaunts to the megaplex. In the current survival-of-the-fittest theatrical landscape, this undistinguished pic qualifies as an endangered species. As a digital babysitter, however, it may prove sufficiently efficient to generate fair-to-middling homevid sales.
Brendan Fraser, often a reliably game farceur in kid-centric fare, is atypically charm-free and flatfooted in the lead role of Dan Sanders, the well-meaning rep for an allegedly eco-friendly land developer (Ken Jeong, “The Hangover”).
When duty calls, Dan — reluctantly accompanied by his wife (Brooke Shields) and adolescent son (Matt Prokop) — moves to a quiet corner of the Pacific Northwest to supervise construction of an upscale housing development. But the animals who reside in this heretofore undisturbed woodland area — led by an ingeniously resourceful raccoon — marshal their considerable forces to sabotage the project by making life miserable for the clueless intruder.
Of course, Dan cannot convince anyone that whenever he’s sprayed by skunks, bombarded by birds or otherwise harassed by forest creatures, the attacks are purposeful assaults by sentient foes. His frustration steadily mounts as he is repeatedly hurt and humiliated. Members of the audience will find it all too easy to feel his pain.
Fraser’s frenetic mugging is only marginally less annoying than the overplaying of his co-stars, suggesting that helmer Roger Kumble directed all humans in the cast to pitch their performances toward toddlers with miniscule attention spans. By contrast, the nonhuman players — including a very large bear and some rather scary-looking rabbits — are enhanced with uneven CGI trickery, but come across as appreciably subtler thesps.
Drab lensing and bland music don’t help matters much. Pic’s title may be a jokey reference to “Forced Vengeance,” a 1982 Chuck Norris action-adventure. But then again, maybe not.