“Furry Vengeance” & “Ondine” 
 
            “Furry Vengeance” is one of those silly films aimed at little kids.  Brendan Fraser is commendably game as the clueless Dad, who moves his family in order to be the project manager for a housing development, that keeps claiming it’s “Green” but is actually destroying a forest just to make money.  His wife (welcome back, Brooke Shields) thinks he’s crazy, but loyally sticks by him, and his teenage son hates being uprooted and misses all his friends until, of course, he meets the pretty local girl.  The furry animals of the forest, it seems, are quite capable of plotting their revenge against the hapless developer, who thinks he’s a big shot, but keeps enduring one disaster after another: getting sprayed by skunks, wrecking his (not-so-green) SUV while trying to avoid a raccoon in the middle of the road; sleeplessness because a crow spends the night pecking on his window (and then, of course, he falls off the roof, once again injuring and embarrassing himself).  Sure, the humor is puerile, but we root for the furry creatures, anyway, despite the pleasure in human pratfalls, until finally our dim-witted hero realizes that they’re just protecting their families, too.  Finally, he gets on the “real” green bandwagon, much to the delight of both his own family and his new furry friends, and everyone lives so happily together after that they shoot a dance scene during the outtakes.
            “Ondine” is a somewhat whimsical tale about a mermaid, which sounds like it might be designed for children, also, but it’s not nearly as kid-friendly as, say, “The Little Mermaid.”  More like “Splash” with an Irish brogue.  Syracuse (Colin Farrell) is a fisherman in a battered little boat, living his whole life in a small fishing village.  He’s  divorced, with a special needs little girl whom he adores, and a caustic ex-wife who’s still a drunk ( Syracuse got sober because he wanted to be emotionally available for his daughter.)  He’s a good guy, but he doesn’t have much, and doesn’t expect much.  But one day his life changes, when he catches a young woman in his fishing net.  Ondine (Alicja Bachleda, who’s Polish but her English is more understandable than his) seems quite content to just latch on to her rescuer.  He puts her up in his Mom’s old cottage by the sea, and his mysterious mermaid simply waits for him to come home, unwilling to see or meet anybody else.  She deflects all questions about her past, and her future, content to live only in the present, with her charming fisherman who suddenly has a lot of luck when she’s around.  (She sings like the Sirens of mythology, and the sea creatures seem to respond to her voice.)  Syracuse ’s daughter is quite willing to believe in fairy tales, the parish priest less so.  (The writer and director, Neil Jordan, who also wrote “The Crying Game,’ brings back Stephen Rea in a very plausible role as the “Father Confessor”, and the irony is not lost on any of us.)
            “Ondine” has a certain salt-air charm, whereas “Furry Vengeance” is about as subtle as a whoopee cushion.  But they’re both appealing, in their own ways, to a broader audience, which, in this era of determined niche marketing, is kind of refreshing.
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas