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By Felix Vasquez Jr. | May 15, 2006

I’m not going to say it, I’m not going to say it. I never thought this movie would make any money, but people seemed to really give a hoot, d’oh! I said it! I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it. I apologize. I went in to the film thinking this was about the band Hootie and the Blowfish, but I was wrong. D’oh. Have to stop these puns. But I have so many! Well, if you’re still reading this review after those horrible jokes: “Hoot”, based on the novel, is a preachy and rather bland film about nice kids seeking to protect some endangered animal and fighting evil industrialists whom want to build a pancake house over the land. They want to give the hoots the boot! Get it? Moving on, why anyone would build a pancake house in the middle of the woods, they never tell us, but either way, I’ve never seen a film centered around pancakes, before. And I’ve never seen anyone feel so strongly about pancakes before.

In the world of “Hoot” adults are annoying, ignorant idiots, and kids are justified heroes who never really go to school, it seems. The new kid in Florida, Roy, arrives in to his town and is drawn in to a large scheme about the owls, thanks to the local “Blue Lagoon” escapee “Mullet Fingers” who lives in a boat house, and has never really been discovered by anyone other than his step sister. My simple question after watching this was why they felt we needed to have another film based on a kid’s book.

There are many great books in this world, but do we really have to have them adapted into movies? As a friend once told me, read the words and use your imagination. What’s so hard about that? Better than watching these bland poorly acted sitcoms. But in this ninety minute long “Captain Planet” episode, the three kids decide to find a way to keep the company from building over it, while trying to elude the local authority, Officer Delinko. Further pushing their “adults are stupid” formula, Delinko is a pure nimrod. He’s someone who you have to wonder how he became an officer in the first place. Wilson who I recently saw in the superior comedy “The Family Stone” sure isn’t convincing as a numbskull, but then you have to take in to consideration why he signed on to star in this.

Sadly, Wilson looks like a lot like a “Police Academy” stalwart. I kept expecting Michael Winslow to pop out of a corner making helicopter sounds while twirling his flashlight. For a film that’s rated PG for “mild bullying”, I just couldn’t help but feel the writer struggling to extend his story, so he threw in a lame sub-plot with a conniving corporate executive, and a bully who will not stop chasing poor Roy around. And then there were the consistencies. At one point, “Mullet Fingers” leaves a Cottonmouth at the sight where the owls are. The owls are nesting in the ground. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that eventually the snake would slither in and have them for lunch? But no, this is film land.

And, I’m don’t major in law, but the film asks the audience to believe the dumbest things. The characters claim that though they reported the owls to the company, they were sent back a letter, and there was nothing they could do about it. Well what about the World Wildlife Federation? Wouldn’t they be the first choice to bring in to help them out and keep them from building the site and killing rare owls? It’s unrealistic. One particular gripe though was one that I just couldn’t help but cringe at was that throughout the entire film, people call Roy “Cowgirl” repeatedly, an awkward inappropriate allusion to his sexual preference which at first becomes odd and then uncomfortable. It’s bad enough at the first half he admits to a strangely homoerotic fascination with “Mullet Fingers”, but to continue calling him “Cowgirl” comes off as rather unnecessary for a children’s film. But hey, I nitpick.

“Hoot” in retrospect won’t really offer your children anything they haven’t already seen, and it’s just another preachy environmental film that talks down to them. Have you seen “Akeelah and the Bee”?

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