RATING |

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 Porta-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 the "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).

There's so little mirth in the message-oriented script 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, singsongy Korean chatter on his cell phone. Thankfully, there's the always-kid-friendly Fraser, gamely donning a too-small pink track suit, taking the falls, and keeping even the naughty bits PG ("I need to remove a leech from my no-no zone").

Furry Vengeance *1/2 (out of four stars)

Directed by Roger Kumble. With Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields,

Ken Jeong, and Matt Prokop. Distributed by Summit Pictures.

Running time: 1 hour, 32 mins.

Parent's guide: PG (Rude humor, mild profanity, and brief smoking).

Playing at: Area theaters.

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