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Entries in Brendan Fraser (2)

Friday
Apr302010

Furry Vengeance

Bad comes in various forms. There are those movies that are easy to pick apart, one that does so many things so wrong that it gives me plenty of venom to spew when I write my reviews, and then there are those movies that are so bad you can’t find the words to describe them. Furry Vengeance falls into the latter category, a film so vapid, so mind numbing, so ill conceived that it has to be seen to be believed. It’s at a level of bad that is indescribable, but I’ll do my best.

The film stars the go to slapstick funnyman Brendan Fraser as Dan Sanders, a housing developer who is working on a project that will effectively wipe out an entire forest. He has brought his wife Tammy, played by Brooke Shields, and his son Tyler, played by Matt Prokop, along with him to live on site for one year, but when his boss, Neal Lyman, played by Ken Jeong, asks him to commit to another four years, he accepts and prolongs their stay. However, their presence is not welcome in the local forest and the animals all decide to band together and run them off their land.

Yep, it’s one of those movies—a live action animal slapstick comedy. The difference between this and something like G-Force or Dr. Dolittle, however, is that the animals don’t talk, or at least not to the humans. They talk amongst themselves as they create strategies and they do it through thought bubbles, like the ones you see in newspaper comic strips. Perhaps because they are forced to work with the resources they are given, their plan mostly consists of humiliation tactics like defecating on Dan’s car, spraying him in the crotch with water and lining up a batch of skunks to spray him not once, not twice, but in three different instances.

And how humiliating it is. Not for the character—who cares about him?—but for Brendan Fraser. You’d think after starring in movies like Monkeybone, Dudley Do-Right and George of the Jungle he’d be tired of relegating himself to a punching bag. He does nothing in this film he hasn’t done in countless others. He contorts his face in all kinds of silly manners and takes a physical punishment unparalleled among other actors. If there were a Guinness Book of World Records movie category for Most Times Hit in the Groin, I’m sure Fraser would reign champion. His mangled member has willingly taken so many shots throughout the years that it’s probably shaped like an L.

I’m sure Fraser’s mindset when accepting these types of roles is a fun one where he hopes to bring laughter to any children who may see his movie, but does he not realize how degrading it is? Never mind his previous movies. Just in this one alone he is urinated on, covered in feces and seen naked wearing a woman’s bra, among others.

I kind of admire the man for having the guts to do these types of things, but I also feel like giving him a hug because he’s a decent actor (as seen in Crash) and deserves better than this. I feel largely the same about the supporting cast who have all seen better days, sans Prokop who somehow manages to embarrass himself more than Fraser just from his pathetic acting abilities.

Furry Vengeance is a boring, insipid, tedious film that tries to tack on a half assed eco friendly "Save our forests!" message to its low brow slapstick, succeeding only in making the proceedings even more painful. As a film reviewer, I try to go into movies with my mind wiped clean of any preconceived notions and give them a shot, but this was one of those occasions where I couldn’t help but break that rule. My expectations were lower than low and still the final product fell far short. Furry Vengeance scrapes the bottom of the cinematic barrel and has officially dethroned Cop Out as the worst film of 2010 thus far.

Furry Vengeance receives 0/5

Friday
Jan222010

Extraordinary Measures

Before the first shot of a bouquet of balloons proclaiming "It's a girl!" shows up in the new Brendan Fraser/Harrison Ford drama Extraordinary Measures, a logo pops up, one I had never seen before: CBS Films. I questioned, when did CBS start their own film production company? Pretty recently one assumes because this is their first big screen attempt and, appropriately, looks and feels like a TV movie. From scene to scene, each passing shot, every line of dialogue, all of it screamed television. Had it appeared on the small screen, it would have been a damn fine adaptation, but theatrical films are held to a higher standard and this amateurish production does little to convince that it belongs where it is.

The story of Extraordinary Measures follows John Crowley (Brendan Fraser), a father of three kids. The youngest two, at ages six and eight, suffer from Pompe, a disease similar to muscular dystrophy where the muscles weaken due to excessive build-up of glycogen. Their life expectancies range around age 9, a number fast approaching his two children. After a scare where his daughter almost dies, he decides he must do all he can to try to find a cure. He had been studying up on the disease and reading theories proposed by Dr. Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford), a Nebraska scientist who had been working on a solution to saving the lives of Pompe sufferers. Crowley convinces Stonehill to join him, partly through his determination and partly through the huge check he bestows to him. So will they find a cure before it's too late? Well, it's based on a book by Geeta Anand called "The Cure," which flashes onscreen right at the beginning of the movie, so I'd say it's a safe bet.

When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I honestly thought it was a commercial for a TV movie, and as I mentioned earlier, it follows the exact formula a film appearing on, say, Lifetime would, all the way down to the low angle "person-slides-their-back-down-against-a-wall-in-sadness" shot. The look of the film is simplistic, the dialogue is perfectly suitable for the medium (sans a few FCC deemed dirty words), and it tugs at the heartstrings, as most of these things do.

Besides, who doesn't feel sadness when children are deathly ill and happiness when that one in a million shot to save their lives pulls through? But that's the problem. I've seen this movie played out on television countless times, each one more manipulative than the last. Sick kids are an easy target because even the most hardened of souls wouldn't wish harm on a helpless child. Yes, I cared about the children and I hoped they would pull through, but that was more due to the fact that I'm not a soulless bastard more than it was because the film was of good quality.

Granted, it's not as bad as I expected it to be. The first hour is painful to watch, with transitions from scene to scene where commercials could have easily been placed, but it picks up and the performances are good enough. Harrison Ford, though not quite as youthful and spirited as he used to be, does a fine job in his role as the contemptuous doctor who sometimes lets his anger get the best of him, and Brendan Fraser finally gets to flex his dramatic muscles after three nonsense loony films (Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, and Inkheart). I like him that side of him and it's the most sincere I've seen him since 2004's excellent Crash.

But that pesky television look and heavy-handed narrative just keep getting in the way. It's funny really because it's a great made for TV movie, but it's not even a good theatrical one. I felt the attempt and I appreciated the uplifting story, but you've got to do better than this to justify your big screen existence. Extraordinary Measures is admirable and has nothing to object to, but nevertheless, you can wait for it to reach cable, where it should have been all along.

Extraordinary Measures receives 2/5