by Tony Medley
Although I avoid animated
films and Harry Potter, I have seen several children’s films in the past
few years. Most of them I have liked. “Because of Winn Dixie” was very
good. “Bad News Bears,” “Dreamer,” and “Zathura” were all enjoyable
movies. They showed good parents, adults as positive role models (well,
maybe not “Bad News Bears”), had reasonably credible story lines and
pretty good scripts.
“Hoot,” on the other hand,
has none of these virtues. Without exception the adults are
reprehensible. The story line is ludicrous.
Roy Eberhardt (Logan Lerman)
is the only son of parents who constantly move. This time they are
moving to Florida, where Roy is the new guy in school. He is immediately
attacked on the school bus by bully Dana Matherson (Eric Phillips). Roy
is forced to fight back and breaks Dana’s nose. This is where the movie
really began to lose me. His parents find out about it but have no
sympathy for the fact that their son was being attacked and that he had
no choice but to fight back. Instead of being proud of him standing up
for himself against a bully, Roy’s father (Neil Flynn), a lawyer, is
particularly unsympathetic. His clueless mother, Kiersten Warren, forces
him to write a letter of apology to the bully. I’m sure that there are
lots of stupid parents in this world like these jerks, but the point of
this movie is that these people are normal, not abnormal, and that this
is the normal way to treat the situation. Don’t support your son;
support the bad guy. Yeah, that’s what I want my children to see.
Delinko (Luke Wilson) is a
really inept policeman who is mistreated by his captain (John Archie).
When Delinko goes to sleep and awakens to find the windows of his police
cruiser have been painted black, the Captain takes the car away from him
and forces him to ride around in a golf cart. This is just simply
Even more ludicrous is that
Roy befriends a female soccer player, Beatrice Leap (Brie Larson) an 8th
grade classmate of his, and she is tougher physically than the bully
Dana. We are to believe that this skinny girl can overpower the huge,
chubby bully. She hates Roy from the outset. Suddenly they are fast
Roy also wants to meet a boy
he sees from his school bus running everywhere, who turns out to be
Mullet Fingers (Cody Linley), who is a truant from school, lives in a
boat by the everglades and collects cottonmouth snakes.
The story line is that Roy,
Beatrice, and Mullet Fingers are trying to keep a pancake house from
being built because some owls live on the property and will be killed by
the bulldozer. So the screenplay (Wil Shriner, who also directed, which
is appropriate for this turkey) justifies the children lying constantly,
skipping class, running away from the police, and breaking the law in
order to keep the pancake house from being built.
The absurdity of this
situation is that the ace in the hole of the movie is that the
Environmental Impact Report that is required for such a project
prohibited the pancake house from being built because of the owls. But
nobody knows this because the one key page has been torn out of the
report. Apparently nobody read the report originally. Apparently nobody
was covering the legal process for the media, even though the
construction of the pancake house is the biggest thing to happen to
Coconut Cove because it is going to create 12 new jobs.
The most irritating character
in a film replete with them, is the superintendent of construction
trying to build the pancake house, Curly Brannick (Tim Blake Nelson).
Every time he opens his mouth it’s like dragging your fingernails across
Robert Wagner makes a cameo
as the mayor at the end of the film. Has RJ lost it? Who could read this
script and want any part of it?
This is a deplorable movie.
Movies for children should have positive values. Ideally, unless they
are satires or have some serious premise, they should present parents in
a favorable light, as loving role models, and present police and figures
of authority in a favorable light. This movie, which is not a satire and
which does not have a serious premise, does none of those.
The only attractive things
about this film are the cinematography that shows some pretty Florida
scenery, and the original music consisting of five new songs composed by
Parrothead Jimmy Buffet, who also plays Mr. Ryan, apparently the only
teacher in Roy’s school, and one who clearly couldn’t care less if Roy
comes to class or not.
This is one to avoid, and if
you have children, avoid it like the plague.
April 12, 2006