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Review: 'Furry Vengeance' loaded with cute animals, few laughs

| Saturday, May 1, 2010

On the sliding critter-comedy scale, "Furry Vengeance" falls somewhere between the "Chipmunks" and the "Chihuahua" (the one from Beverly Hills). And if its scheming woodland creatures, slapstick violence, bird poop and Porte-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 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 their development. His wife has settled into a teaching job at the school, but their teen son, Tyler (Matt Prokop), isn't adjusting.

"I feel like I'm stuck in the Disney Channel!"

And the future roadkill of the forest aren't taking this deforestation lying down.

A raccoon is their ringleader with ferrets, vultures, squirrels and skunks ready to pitch in. They don't talk, but communicate with little 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 a clever "Dangerous Liaisons" set in high school, "Cruel Intentions," and worked his way down to "College Road Trip" and now this.

There's so little mirth in the message-oriented script (the animals, some with "Babe" digital embellishments, were meant to carry it) that the cast resorts to mugging to find a laugh. 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.

"I need to remove a leech from my no-no zone."

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