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Movie Review

Dan Sanders is a teddy bear of a guy. He may not have liked the idea of moving his family from Chicago to the small town wilds of Oregon, but it was the perfect opportunity to show his real estate development firm—and Mr. Lyman, his overly demanding boss—that he's a team player. Dan figures he's the perfect fit for the situation. He's an eco-friendly fella heading up an eco-friendly building project and getting a good lungful of eco-fresh air in the bargain. Ahhh.

Besides, it's only for a year. His bored teenage son, Tyler, can find a few new friends for a couple of months. And Tammy, his mover and shaker of a wife, can even get a part-time job at the local school. They'll love her there. This'll probably be a great experience for everybody.

Then again … maybe not.

You see, Dan isn't initially aware of a couple of things. For one, Tammy and Ty are livid at being forced to live out in the middle of nowhere. For another, Lyman's got bigger plans than originally revealed. During a corporate-jet stopover, the boss lays out stage two of his building project. And it's a doozy that'll occupy the next four years of Dan's life. Ulp.

And that's not even the worst of it. A whole lotta forest will have to be razed to make room for Lyman's plan, and it seems that the forest's animal residents—led by a raccoon with the battle savvy of a four-star general—have found out about it. Now poor Dan has landed at the top of their hit list.

Teddy bear or not, Dan is the enemy and this is interspecies war!

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Positive Elements

Dan's torn between job pressures and family loyalty, but he never stops caring about his wife and son. He also wants to efficiently complete his company duties while wreaking as little havoc on the environment around him as possible—even though his boss tosses those concerns aside.

Tammy and Tyler are initially indifferent to the small community that they fear they'll have to suffer in for the next year. But eventually they come to care for the townspeople they meet.

Spiritual Content

When the raccoon gathers his forest animal troops, he speaks to them in animal lingo. Accompanying thought bubbles show Dan as a red-faced devil with horns. In a flashback scene, a pilgrim character says, "We are all God's children."

Sexual Content

Tammy wears a few formfitting and low-cut tops. As does Ty's girlfriend, Amber. And as do women at the forest festival. Dan is seen naked in a tub. (Water covers his midsection.) In a highly improbable gag sequence, Dan ends up donning his wife's bra for all the world to see. (Or at least the builders next door.) In a sequence of parodies during the credits, Dan is shirtless, dressed in an animal skin skirt à la The Blue Lagoon. (Tammy goes "native" too.) Ty dances in his underwear, Risky Business style. And a Britney Spears-themed spoof shows bare midriffs and short skirts.

When Lyman wants to convince a foreign investor to float some cash for the building project, he relishes the idea of Tammy adding "eco-go go dancers" to the school's forest festival. We see a girl at the event in a leaf-covered bikini.

Violent Content

To start things out, the animals put together a marble maze-like trap that starts with a rolling pinecone and eventually triggers a boulder that tumbles down a hillside. The huge rock smashes into a car, pushing car and driver over a cliff. (Nobody's killed.) Dan's caught in this trap, too. He tumbles off the cliff without his vehicle, showing up later, tattered and torn.

That's only the beginning of the painful looking beatdowns Dan receives at the beaks and paws of his adversaries.

Examples of his torment include slipping on a rooftop and landing spread-legged on the peak before tumbling to the ground; being tossed to and fro in a porta-potty by a huge bear; getting stuck in the window of his truck as it speeds into a lake; running from a pecking and dive-bombing vulture; hurtling over the handlebars of an exercise machine and slamming into a nearby wall; being bitten, pummeled and peed on by a rampaging raccoon; and catapulting into a bush full of bees (which leaves Dan with a hideously swollen face).

To fight back, a security guard with a trunk full of guns and traps sets out after the forest inhabitants. We see him shoot some with tranquilizer darts and put them in cages.

Crude or Profane Language

When Dan sees a boulder rolling his way, he screams out "Miley Cyrus!" There's one mention of being in "hell," one "darn it" and several uses of "oh my god." "Pecker" is blurted out in a way that seems to have a double meaning. During the closing credits, an edited version of Cypress Hill's obscene song "Insane in the Membrane" retains the word "d‑‑n."

Drug and Alcohol Content

A guy in a sports car smokes a cigar, then tosses it out the window into a pile of dry leaves. (Animals grab it before the leaves ignite.) A "mushroom" enhanced tea gives Dan vividly hallucinogenic dreams.

Other Negative Elements

First, four yucky "afters": After Dan gets sprayed by a sprinkler, he labels himself "Mr. Pee-Pee Pants." After crashing into a lake, Dan reports that he must "remove a leech from my no-no zone." After having his clothes stolen, Dan squeezes into his wife's exercise suit with the words "Yum Yum" printed across the seat of the pants. (His stomach hangs out over the waistband.) After being drenched in the contents of a porta-potty and sprayed with a fire hose, Dan runs down the street in his underwear. A dozen skunks slip into Dan's truck and nearly asphyxiate him with clouds of stink. And we see a skunk spray him repeatedly in the face.

When Tammy starts work at the school, the small-town teachers are presented as hopelessly provincial and, in one case, downright senile. Several racial stereotype jokes are tossed out about Koreans and American Indians.

Conclusion

Furry Vengeance is one of those flicks that's aimed squarely at kids. It's filled with scores of anthropomorphized, CGI-enlivened critters that are preternaturally bright and as soft and cuddly looking as a lineup of Build-A-Bear bunnies. Add in lots of goofy Brendan Fraser pratfalls replete with "help-me-mommy" deadpans and you've got a surefire winner, right?

Well …

What looks bulletproof in a story logline doesn't always pan out on the screen. And this eye-rollingly silly pic is Exhibit A. Or at least Exhibit M. "A stupid, mean-spirited little movie that ranks down there with the worst in recent memory. Distant memory, too," rants Bill Goodykoontz in the Arizona Republic.

Sure, the nibbling squirrels and brainstorming raccoons may look cute, but their attacks on nice guy Dan … aren't. All the crotch thumps, skunk sprays and clothes-shredding scratches and bites quickly take on the uncomfortable—and unfunny—feeling of something like torture. And it's a slapstick torture that's basted in a steady spray of toilet humor.

"My first response when I read the script was, 'Please, please, tell me I get hit with bird poop,'" actress Angela Kinsey told movieset.com. Though she may have been speaking with tongue planted firmly in cheek, Kinsey definitely got her wish. And everyone else gets to join in on the wish fulfillment in one way or another, too. Especially Dan.

In truth, though, the film wants to do more than drop glop and continually bang away at poor old Danny boy. Produced by activist production house Participant Media, the movie is designed to bang away at an environmental agenda drum, too.

Participant's website describes the Furry action this way: "A band of animals battle the efforts of a real estate developer trying to build a new housing community in a wilderness area and end up teaching him a lesson about the environmental consequences of man's encroachment on nature."

In other words, Dan is battered and tattered until he finally has to limp into the public eye and admit just how evil his job of building houses for humans really is.

Environmental responsibility is one thing. I take no issue with a movie stressing the importance of preserving and protecting nature. But the one-dimensional and heavy-pawed Furry Vengeance doesn't do the environmental cause, young viewers … or anyone looking for moviegoing pleasure any favors.

Or, as Lisa Schwarzbaum puts it in her Entertainment Weekly review, "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."

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Plot Summary

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Profanity/Violence

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