For Mother Nature, revenge is a dish best served… furry! In this hilarious family comedy with a message, greedy developers try to pave over paradise and unwittingly launch a sidesplitting battle between man and nature. And anyone who doesn't learn that "green" isn't just the color of money might just end up as road kill!
After transplanting his family from Chicago to the Oregon woods for his new job overseeing the construction of a supposedly "eco-friendly" housing development, Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser) thinks his biggest problem will be helping his city-loving wife Tammy (Brooke Shields) and nature-phobic teenaged son (Matt Prokop) adjust to their new surroundings while pleasing his demanding boss (Ken Jeong). But Dan's troubles have only begun once the local animals discover his leadership role in the destruction of their habitat. He soon lands atop their Most Wanted list, and realizes how much trouble a few feisty forest creatures can cause!
The clever critters bedevil Dan night and day, sabotaging his work, his peace of mind -- and even his wardrobe. Under this concerted attack, Dan soon finds his once-perfect life in ruins. He completely fails in his efforts to trap, deter or even photograph the animal assault team and without proof of the covert woodland conspiracy against him; no one believes Dan's claims. With his wife and son poised to abandon him, and his construction project in jeopardy,
Dan escalates the feud to all-out intra-species war that can only have one winner.
The film is directed by Roger Kumble (The Sweetest Thing, College Road Trip) and produced by Robert Simonds (The Spy Next Door; Yours, Mine and Ours) and Keith Goldberg (17 Again, The Number 23). Ira Shuman (The Spy Next Door, Night at the Museum) and Brendan Fraser serve as executive producers. The screenplay was written by Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert (Mr. Woodcock).
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
The seed for Furry Vengeance was planted during a spate of wildfires in Southern California in 2004. Screenwriters Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert started to wonder what would happen if the creatures whose habitats had been devastated decided to seek retribution against the humans who wreaked havoc on their lives. As the pair sketched out the storyline, it began to evolve into a hilarious revenge comedy about a real estate developer who messes with the wrong forest. "We always had the concept of animals going after a human who had wronged them," says Carnes. "The idea of Mother Nature turning on people had so many comic possibilities."
Producer Keith Goldberg, who had worked with the writing team on its first script, Mr. Woodcock, loved the environmental message at the film's core. "We bought it right away," he says. "The idea of animals attacking a real estate developer for taking away their homes struck us as a great movie idea. We've heard about it in horror movies, but this is the first time I'd seen it in a family comedy. It seemed like a really exciting story to tell."
In the fertile imaginations of the writers, Furry Vengeance blossomed into the story of real estate developer Dan Sanders, dispatched by his employer to plow under a pristine forest to make way for a luxurious subdivision and shopping mall. "But he finds that the animals aren't too keen on giving up their home," explains producer Goldberg. "Dan senses pretty early on that he might be stepping into a gray area and he ultimately has to pay the price in a very comedic and fun way."
Producer Bob Simonds recruited Roger Kumble, director of the hit comedies College Road Trip and The Sweetest Thing, to take the helm. "It was a great script and just the kind of project I was looking to do," says Kumble. "I like heightened reality and broad physical humor, and at the end of the day, I'm making a movie for myself. Since I've had kids, I've been drawn to the family film genre, as well as the edgy material I worked with earlier on in my career. In a lot of ways, this combines both."
Kumble, a writer as well as a director, worked with Carnes and Gilbert as they fine-tuned their script. One of his first major first decisions was to keep the animals in the film as close to reality as possible. "We've already seen family movies packed with cute little animals," says Kumble. "Usually the animals talk, or they are animated. I asked myself how we could break away from the rest of the pack with this film. I decided to go old school, like a silent movie.
"I was adamant when I met with the studios," continues the director. "I didn't want the animals to talk. If we used voices for the animals, it would be clear what they were saying, but if we left it to the imagination, it would be even funnier."
The result is classic slapstick romp with environmental overtones. "I describe the movie to people who haven't read the script as a live-action Looney Tunes movie," says executive producer Ira Shuman. "But without the Looney Tunes characters--and with an environmental message. It's a family comedy with some really wacky moments, especially when the animals begin to take revenge on the humans who are trying to destroy the home they've lived in for generations."
Actor Brendan Fraser soon joined the production as both star and executive producer of Furry Vengeance. Fraser threw himself into the development process, working closely with Kumble to nail down the story. "I was entrusted with the privilege of being an executive producer on this," he says. "It allowed me to have a strong sense of collaboration with everyone involved in the process of putting together the picture from pre production through postproduction."
"Brendan was a great partner," says Kumble. "As we were developing the script, I got a good deal of input from him. Bob Simonds and I consulted with him every step of the way from crew to cast and he always came up with great ideas. He read the script and said, 'Wilson: Toby Huss.' I didn't think of that and I've known Toby forever. And the reenactment characters were all Brendan's idea. He brings a lot to the plate. He's a great collaborator. He was all about the movie, not his image in it."
A comedy veteran himself, Fraser gives Kumble kudos for his skill at making audiences laugh. "Roger Kumble is a mathematician at comedy," he says. "He's a walking almanac of knowledge when it comes to 'show me the funny.' He dissects a joke perfectly. The initial script was more of a darkly funny horror film and Roger made sure we didn't lose sight of telling jokes.
We really had to run at it and be fearless. And have a lot of ice packs standing by, in my case. This is a picture that has repeat viewing emblazoned all over it."
To give himself and his cast the freedom to experiment, Kumble chose to shoot the film using the Red digital camera. "The Red camera is a powerful computer processor that happens to be a camera that emulates the qualities of stock film," says Fraser. "You can have a much longer continuous take than you can with film. That meant Roger wouldn't stop directing, he didn't have to call 'cut.' He would be out there playing every part in the movie while he was directing it. It was hot. Killer bees and mosquitoes were attacking us. We were all miserable, but Roger was in his element. He is the most energetic director that I've ever worked with."
From the beginning, Fraser believed the film's combination of broad humor and eco-consciousness would appeal to a wide audience. "We never condescend or talk down to our audience," he says. "But we do entertain everyone. We've made it very inclusive. Parents aren't going to be looking at their watches while the kids enjoy the movie. The movie makes fun of itself. It breaks the fourth wall, so to speak. And there's no gag that we won't go after. There are plenty of pratfalls and furry forest creatures with all kinds of bodily functions, but there's a nice little environmental message tucked into all of this too. It's just not in a way that's wagging its finger at you, making you feel like you need to eat your vegetables."
Finding that balance was the films' biggest challenge, says the director. "Making a film those appeals to the adults who are taking the kids as much as the kids themselves are the biggest test of any director tackling a family film," admits Kumble. "It's tricky to get through the process.
I don't want the kids to enjoy themselves while the parents are gouging their eyes out because they're so bored. Parents can enjoy this, while the kids get something more than just entertainment. Being a father of three little kids, I always think, 'Oh good, they can learn something too.'"
In the end, though, Kumble says his ambitions for the movie are simple: "I'm hoping people think it's the funniest movie of all time. That's what I set out to do."
CONSTRUCTING A COMEDY CORPS
Through his experience directing ensemble comedies Roger Kumble has developed what he thinks of as a foolproof approach to the process. "Frankly, all you can do is prepare well and surround yourself with great people." With that in mind, the filmmakers assembled a core cast that includes veteran actors, eager newcomers and a few performers that hover somewhere in between. "Our only hard and fast rule was that we bring on really great comics to play these parts," says Fraser. "We filled the ranks with all manner of talented individuals, especially performers with a strong background in improv." Fraser's affable, good guy demeanor gives his character an edge with the audience as they get to know him. "Dan starts off as a bit of a jerk," says Kumble. "But if he's too much of a jerk, we're going to hate him. We wanted somebody who came on screen with a reservoir of good will and Brendan fit the bill. He's just about the best physical comic on the planet and he's just so likable he can get away with anything. I've loved him since Encino Man. I always saw Dan Sanders as a real person who's been pushed a little. And I think there is no one better at that than Brendan. It's a perfect movie for him." Read more
TEACHING ANIMALS TO ACT
From the beginning, the filmmakers' intention was to use real animals to play the forest creatures in Furry Vengeance. "There have been a lot of very successful CGI-animated animal movies," says executive producer Ira Shuman. "But the animated animals don't move the way animals really move, and they are given human habits and mannerisms. We've tried to go with their normal behaviors. There were certain things we needed for the story, but we adapted to what came naturally to them. Our animals are essentially real animals." Read more
DESIGNING ROCKY SPRINGS
The primary location for Furry Vengeance is the Sanders home, a soaring McMansion that anchors the new development of Rocky Springs. The location had quite a few specific physical requirements that proved difficult to find in one place. "The action takes place on a culde- sac in a wooded area, with just one house on it," says Shuman. "The woods needed to be older and more mature. It's a place that the animals had lived for a long time." Read more
GOING GREEN ON SET
In keeping with the eco-conscious themes of the movie, the production contracted the services of the not-for-profit Film and Entertainment Recycling Initiative (FaERI) to coordinate the recycling of the many materials used and discarded during the production. Read more
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
ROGER KUMBLE (Director) began his career as a playwright and director in 1993 with the Hollywood satire "Pay or Play," which garnered him the L.A. Weekly Award for Best Comic Writing. His second play, 1997's "d girl," starring David Schwimmer, earned him four Dramalogue Awards. In 2003, Kumble completed his Hollywood trilogy with the critically acclaimed "Turnaround," again starring David Schwimmer, which sold out its entire run in Los Angeles.
Kumble made his feature-film directorial debut with 1999's hit Cruel Intentions, his adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos' "Les Liaisons Dangereuses," starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon and Selma Blair; his screenplay transposed the French classic to modern New York. He followed this with the comedy The Sweetest Thing, starring Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, Selma Blair and Thomas Jane, and Just Friends, starring Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris and Amy Smart. More recently, he directed Martin Lawrence, Raven Simone and Donny Osmond in the successful family comedy College Road Trip.
For television, Kumble created the series "Manchester Prep" and has directed episodes of Showtime's "Out of Order," with Eric Stoltz and Felicity Huffman, and NBC's "Kath & Kim," with Molly Shannon, Selma Blair and John Michael Higgins. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and lives in Los Angeles with his wife Mary and three young children.
MICHAEL CARNES and JOSH GILBERT (Screenplay) wrote the original screenplay for the comedy Mr. Woodcock, starring Billy Bob Thornton, Susan Sarandon, Seann William Scott and Amy Poehler. At present, they are writing Balls for Universal, with Brian Grazer producing, and "Pee Wee," a pilot for Sony TV; other projects are in development with Paramount, NBC, Universal and Disney.
The writing team has won a Daytime Emmy Award and was named among the "Top Ten Screenwriters to Watch" by Variety. Carnes, a Dallas native and graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, loves college football and most forms of melted cheese. Gilbert, who grew up in Aurora, IL, is a graduate of Marquette University; his passions include woodworking and magic.
THE ART OF ORIGINAL FILMMAKING