Holes, Because of Winn-Dixie and now, Hoot. Since we don"t really have after school TV specials anymore, these kid novels-turned-hokey movies seem to be fitting the bill.
Based on Carl Hiaasen"s Newbery Honor-winning novel, the story follows Roy (Logan Lerman), a middle-schooler who has had to move around a lot because of his father"s job. When he moves from his beloved Montana to Florida, it"s a big culture shock. But then he hooks up with a tomboy (Brie Larson) and her wild child stepbrother (Cody Linley), and together they unearth a disturbing threat to a local population of endangered owls (and the birds are really cute, too) by greedy land developers. Now, along with his new friends and a local cop (Luke Wilson), Roy has a new mission in life--to prevent the adults from destroying precious wildlife. I wish I could say Hoot really is a hoot, but unfortunately, it really isn"t.
The three young performers handle most of the action with aplomb. Lerman (TV"s Jack and Bobby) leads things off as the wandering Roy, portraying a character with a surprisingly kind disposition, considering how many times he has been uprooted in his life. Larson (Sleepover) plays the tough Beatrice, who"s all about protecting the ones she loves with plenty of scowls and quick punches. Linley (Cheaper by the Dozen) turns in a dreamy, Teen Beat-ready performance as Mullet Fingers, a runaway who is the main instigator in trying to stop the land developers. As for the adults, Wilson sort of phones it in as the bumbling cop, while Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother Where Art Thou?) and Clark Gregg (In Good Company) play the villains--one dumb as a post and the other, a slimy weasel, respectively.
Hoot is a pleasant enough family comedy, teaching us to appreciate and protect our environment--even if that means putting alligators in port-o-potties to scare off the developers. A little harmless sabotaging never hurt anyone, especially if it means protecting those adorable little burrowing owls. Actor/TV director Wil Shriner adequately takes the helm in his first stab at feature films, and even singer Jimmy Buffett--an avid Floridian--gets in the act, not only providing the soundtrack but also as one of the film"s producers. Still, there are problems with Hoot. It"s always hard to criticize a film which is nothing but good, clean fun and provides positive messages--but unlike Holes, which has a very quirky sensibility, Hoot is, well, sort of bland. The trite dialogue is, at times, cringe-worthy and the comedy sophomoric. It would have been better suited as a made-for-TV movie on Nickelodeon.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.