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2006 - PG - 90 Mins.
Director: Wil Shriner
Producer: Frank Marshall
Written By: Wil Shriner, Carl Hiaasen (novel)
Starring: Logan Lerman, Brie Larson, Cody Linley, Jimmy Buffett, Luke Wilson, Tim Blake Nelson
Review by: Joe Rickey
Official Site:

Hey, that's me!
The new kid in a small Florida town teams with two other outcasts to stop urban development from encroaching on the natural habitat of endangered owls in writer/director Wil Shriner's new film based on Carl Hiaasen's award-winning novel.

Roy Eberhart (Logan Lerman) is sick of moving from state to state, school to school because of his father's government job. He has grown so bitter that upon moving to Florida, he promises himself that he won't get attached to the place or anyone or anything in it. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself drawn to the plight of a group of endangered owls whose habitat is about to be destroyed to make way for a new pancake restaurant. He joins forces with an odd boy known as "Mullet Fingers" (Cody Linley) and his sister Beatrice (Brie Larson) as they set about wreaking havoc on the attempted construction of said pancake eatery.

'Hoot' is patronizing and morally questionable. The film plays like one of those old-fashioned and now defunct after-school specials and features their own brand of cloying writing as well. Writer/director Wil Shriner loses much in translation from Hiaasen's novel, eliminating any evidence of the witty and droll dialogue that made the novel worth reading in the first place as the plot itself is nothing new and therefore rather predictable. The dialogue loses all flavor and comes across as all too adult for a film aimed at children. Even the dialogue spoken by the young actors doesn't remain faithful to the source material along with just being too cliche for its own good. Shriner also fails when it comes to pacing as the film far too often stops for a speech about wildlife preservation and/or urban development. The potential for creativity existed and one wonders how much sharper the dialogue could have been had Hiaasen himself written the screenplay. It certainly couldn't have resulted in anything worse than what's here.

Kudos though must go to the trio of young leads. Lerman is likeable enough that we care enough to follow him wherever he goes. Larson is radiant as the defiant Beatrice and Linley is suitably off-kilter as "Mullet Fingers." It's disappointing then to report that the adult actors give uniformly grating performances. From Luke Wilson as a clueless police officer to Tim Blake Nelson as a representative for the prospective restaurant, they all go way over the top with the exception of Jimmy Buffett who goes the opposite direction by underacting to the point of sleepwalking through his part. He also lends the film's soundtrack which doesn't know the meaning of the word "subtlety."

Sure, 'Hoot' features some nice-looking on-location shots of The Sunshine State courtesy of Michael Chapman but if that's all you want in a movie you'd be better off watching the Travel Channel and saving yourself both time and money in the process.
Movie Guru Rating
Bland, boring, inept. Forgettable. Bland, boring, inept. Forgettable.
  1.5 out of 5 stars

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