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HOOT (director/writer: Wil Shriner; screenwriters: Ron Lieber/based on the novel by Carl Hiaasen; cinematographer: Michael Chapman; editor: Alan Edward Bell; music: Phil Marshall, Michael Utley, Mac McAnally; cast: Logan Lerman (Roy Eberhardt), Brie Larson (Beatrice), Luke Wilson (Officer David Delinko), Eric Phillips (Dana), Neil Flynn (Mr. Eberhardt), Kiersten Warren (Mrs. Eberhardt), Tim Blake Nelson (Curly Branitt), Cody Linley (Mullett Fingers), Robert Wagner (Mayor Grandy), Clark Gregg (Chuck Muckle), Jimmy Buffett (Mr. Ryan, science teacher); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Frank Marshall/Jimmy Buffett; New Line Cinema; 2006)
“Soporific effort.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Three middle-schoolers take on corrupt politicians and greedy land developers in this well-intentioned but inconsequential eco-conscious family drama/comedy. Co-writer and vet TV director Wil Shriner makes his feature film debut a forgettable one. He keeps it family-friendly, plodding, unchallenging, predictable and superficial. Ron Lieber is co-writer. It’s based on the award-winning young adult novel by Carl Hiaasen. It was filmed at beautiful scenic Gulf Coast locales (mostly in and around Ft. Lauderdale). Co-producer Jimmy Buffett provides some nifty songs on the soundtrack and has a cameo as the star’s science teacher.

The 14-year-old Roy Eberhardt (Logan Lerman) moves from Montana to South Florida, in a town called Coconut Cove. The kid’s father has a job in the Justice Department, whereby he’s always relocating. This is Roy’s eight school in the last six years. Because of his cowboy dress, the kids on the school bus call him Cowgirl. The school bully (Eric Phillips) chokes him, he gets off on the wrong foot with the tomboy star soccer player Beatrice (Brie Larson) and gets rejected when he tries to befriend the barefoot runaway teenager, Mullet Fingers (Cody Linley). It’s learned that the cartoonish Mullet, who lives in an abandoned rundown fishing boat, is sabotaging a construction site at night for a new pancake house because endangered owls nest there. Soon Roy joins Mullet and his step-sister Beatrice in their effort to stop construction on that site. That frustrates the clueless cop (Luke Wilson) and the dim-witted construction site supervisor (Tim Blake Nelson). In this pic, the adults are dopes and the kids know all the answers.

As a broad comedy it tries hard, but the comedy is strained and far from funny. All the characters are blandly portrayed. The greedy corporate pancake head of a national chain (Clark Gregg) is the one-dimensional villain, who gives a hammy performance to get a few laughs.

It’s a weak film that encourages the thoughtful viewer to perhaps roll his eyes at the soporific effort.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”