Urban Cinefile
"I find pressure really makes my brain work. I like it, but sometimes that's frightening and the first couple of days I really blew. I just got it wrong"  -Sam Mendes on directing American Beauty
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser) has just relocated his family from Chicago to the Oregon woods for his new position overseeing the construction of an eco-friendly housing development. His wife Tammy (Brooke Shields) and teenage soon Tyler (Matt Prokop) are finding it difficult to adjust to their new surroundings, but Dan's problems are only just beginning. While placating his demanding boss Neal Lyman (Ken Jeong), the forest animals discover Dan's leadership role in the destruction of their habitat and fight back. Racoons, beavers, squirrels and skunks begin to sabotage Dan's life.

Review by Louise Keller:
Filled with pratfalls, slapstick and toilet humour, this furry nonsense with an eco-friendly message is harmless family fun. It's pretty silly mind you, intentionally overdone with hammy performances, but to some degree, young children will be amused as beavers, squirrels, racoons and skunks run rings around Brendan Fraser's hapless project manager, the crazy munch in the green sandwich between the forest animals and the greedy property developer. Much of the humour is repetitious; how many ways can good natured Fraser be humiliated? Perhaps the film's saving grace is the filmmakers' restraint in not allowing the animals to talk and a mild injection of zaniness resonates in the positive.

Forget those wonderful roles like Gods and Monsters, The Quiet American and The Mummy, when Fraser was given the opportunity to show his acting chops. This is not that Brendan Fraser. The Fraser we see here is the silly one from George of the Jungle: his well-meaning but stupid Dan has a permanently surprised expression on his face, as a posse of animals terrorise him physically and psychologically. His wife Tammy (an unrecognisable Brooke Shields) sends him to the couch and then to the shrink ('Denial is a river in Egypt'), and his teenage son Tyler (Matt Prokop) finds solace in the pretty, environment-loving assistant librarian (Skyler Samuels). While Dan's green mission is to preserve the environment, the only thing that is green is the colour of money Ken Jeong's private jet-flying developer intends to make. Jeong is a quirky presence (remember him as the naked man in The Hangover?), although there is not much opportunity for him to shine among the racoons.

Birds make their deposits on Dan's car, peck holes in the milk carton and tap hysterically on the window pane at night. The all-time low comes after Dan has been subjected to a skunk stink-fest trapped in his car, following which he douses himself in the bathtub with hot chilli sauce (don't ask!) and ends up wearing his wife's red bra, much to the amusement of the workers spying through the window. There's another explanation defying moment, when Dan is tipped every which way in the portaloo by an overly zealous grizzly bear. Fraser gets top marks for being a good sport (or a dork), when the racoons steal his entire wardrobe and he limps out of the house bouncing and bulging out of his wife's tiny clothes. This is not a good look! As for the animals, they roll their eyes, drive cars, project thought bubbles (of Mel Gibson in Brave Heart) and toss boulders down the cliff-side. It's not quite out-there enough, although the final scenes during the closing credits, when Fraser, Shields and the gang mime to Cypress Hill's 'Insane in the Membrane', with a ripe send up of movies like Blue Lagoon and Grease, come close.

Email this article

Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

(US, 2010)

CAST: Brendan Fraser, Ken Jeong, Brooke Shields, Angela Kinsey, Rob Giggle, Matt Prokop, Toby Huss, Skyler Samuels, Samantha Bee

PRODUCER: Keith Goldberg, Robert Simonds

DIRECTOR: Roger Kumble

SCRIPT: Michael Carnes, Josh Gilbert

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Lyons Collister

EDITOR: Lawrence Jordan

MUSIC: Edward Shearmur

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stephen Lineweaver

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Tasmania: September 2, 2010; Victoria, Queensland: September 16, 2010; NSW, ACT, SA, WA: September 23, 2010

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020