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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog


-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

FFFJ: Furry Vengeance

So, time once again for me to come out of my quasi retirement to "check in here at the office." Thought I'd post another FFFJ (From the Files of Fun Joel) screenplay review, since I saw this movie has just come out this weekend. Additionally, since my comments from when I read the screenplay seem to have been effectively shown to be accurate, figured it was further worthwhile.


So, I read this screenplay professionally back in June 2008, and ended up rating it a PASS. The writers (Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert) got the slightly better response of WEAK CONSIDER. Here's how I summed up the plot in a logline:

"Forest animals unite to combat a development project led by a neglectful father whose son hates his lack of conservationism."

For those who don't know, PASS means the script is bad, not that it should be passed on to someone else to look at. My comments in brief were summarized as:

"A repetitive script and major similarities to other recent projects marks this as less than promising. And a decidedly mean-spirited comedic style also hurts its chances for XXXXX production."

Still, the negative comments about this script were of course more detailed than that. Here are my comments:

Furry Vengeance is a mildly entertaining script with a good (though obvious from square one) moral. At the same time, however, the film grows extremely repetitive, and thus boring. Furthermore, the comedy is extremely mean-spirited, which though it works, is still not the best tack for family programming. Ultimately, the film is good but far from great, and unlikely to be worth pursuit for XXXXX production.

Clearly, the subject of Furry Vengeance makes it a decent film for XXXXX consideration. Conceptually, this is prime family film territory. It is in execution, however, that this film loses its potential. Firstly, on its own terms, the screenplay falls short. Though the concept starts out as mildly entertaining, in short order the gags become overly repetitive. There is little difference between the animal attacks at the beginning of the film and the end. Yes, the scope increases somewhat, but overall they don’t feel different enough.

Compound this problem with the fact that it feels unoriginal in comparison to other similar films. Many of the specific gags feel as if they were pulled straight out of Evan Almighty. And then the climax and many other gags are overly reminiscent of Hoot (not the best predecessor).

Slapstick comedy by its very nature stems from people getting hurt. But in this script, the gags seem overly mean-spirited. While there have been many family films that have employed such a comedic style, it still feels as if it isn’t the most responsible material to be putting in front of kids.

In the end, this script could potentially turn a profit. Though even that is not assured, due to the aforementioned reasons. Still, since this is not the most promising script out there, and since it's not a particularly strong concept either, there seems no reason for XXXXX to pursue this property.

So, how does this match up to the final product?

Well, for starters, it is worth noting that it opened with a weak $6.5 million box office. Who knows how it will perform in the long run. As this review points out, the film has "no significant competition in the family-movie sphere."

More importantly, though, the reviewer points to some of the same pros and cons that I did, which underscores why it likely had such a poor opening.

While parents' minds wander, young kids will enjoy the slapstick, much of it involving pee and poop, in this tale of enterprising woodland creatures determined to save their home from developers....

From defecating birds to squirt-happy skunks, screenwriters Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert substitute crude gags for humor at nearly every turn.

I always take pride in seeing my comments borne out at the box office, and I am proud that I recommended my employers not move forward with production on this low quality project.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, and sorry for the intromission...
I'm doing a final research work for school, called "from paper to screen", about film adaptations.
If you -or anyone who read this- could do this survey, i'd be very grateful! Thanks!

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Jana said...

Thanks for the heads up on the film; my 8 year old thinks anything with animals is a 'go-for-it' film.

What you didn't mention though, is the joy in hearing a 'pitch' for a story and then reading the resulting screenplay and finding is was even better than the pitch you heard. Life does send us 'lemonade' on a cool day sometimes in addition to the lemons!

Jana - http://www.wordsmythe.ca

1:07 AM  
Blogger Ephraim Rodriguez said...

It takes a lot of courage to admit that you passed on Furry Vengeance. Your expectation that a film be original as reason for the pass is also worthy of recognition and out of place in the collective conscious of the common people's view of "Hollyweird".

My favorite line in your post is: "unoriginal in comparison to other similar films"

On a more serious note I was somewhat surprised to see you raise an ethical question. You wrote that the comedy was overly cruel and mean-spirited and since the film was geared toward children it probably isn't responsible to put the movie in front of kids.

Angel wings. I have kids. I don't have cable tv for this very reason. I screen what they watch. If there were more of you, filtering the stories we let our kids consume, Western civilization would be less anxious and the rest of the world might not be as leery of us.

3:38 PM  

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