I blame Dr Doolittle. Talk to the animals, indeed! When we wrote the ELT adaptation of the Wallace & Gromit animations, we had to adapt the dialogue to simpler (and less quirky) English, and we also had to increase the amount of language so that we could create a coherent syllabus. One of our early ideas was to have Gromit “think aloud.” This was rightly shot down at once, by someone explaining loudly and carefully, ‘Gromit … is … a … dog.” Instead we had a narrator.
I think Look Who’s Talking started the trend by digitally manipulating film of babies. Since Babe, the story of an intelligent piglet, film companies have realized it’s cheap and easier to manipulate real animals mouths and expressions digitally. The trailers before Furry Vengeance had two. A new Marmaduke film, and Cats and Dogs II. Both looked appalling.
Furry Vengeance takes a step back. The animals, plot, plan and do stuff, but they don’t actually speak. They squeak and crudely drawn cartoon “thinks bubbles” emerge from their heads. OK, a developer (played by Ken Jeong) decides to build a small housing estate on forest land. The supervisor, Dan Sanders, (played by Brendan Fraser) doesn’t realize at first that he plans to pave the neighbourhood and build a major suburb.
The animals take their revenge. Apparently the developer’s agent in a Porsche is killed by a boulder in the first couple of minutes (not very kiddy, that). Then everything falls on the head of the supervisor, Dan. He is the victim of the animals’ attacks, increasingly more vicious, so that it’s Home Alone with Fraser taking the bashing that was shared between all the burglars. Still, at least he gets to play opposite Brooke Shields as his wife.
One of the mildest animal irritations
I don’t think there’s anything positive to say. Some of the attack bits are quite funny, but not very. But can’t animals just be animals? The racoon is the ringleader, aided by sadistic squirrels, spraying skunks, shitting seagulls, a window-tapping crow inflicting the equivalent of water torture, and a bear that turns Fraser upside down in a Portaloo. Fraser spends a lot of time having skunk spray, seagull droppings and Portaloo contents hosed off him. Jeong’s portrayal of the developer lapsing into Asiatic squeaky incoherent talk is uncomfortably racist. So the film on the whole is full of shite.