Hoot DVD: Review By Dodd

A large quantity of extras that will provide hours of enjoyment.
  • OVERALL
    3.0
    WORTHY
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
A large quantity of extras that will provide hours of enjoyment.
THE BAD
Unfortunately the quality of the film cannot match the quality of the extras.
THE FEATURE
The environment: what a hot topic. This year, it seems like more and more awareness is being shifted to better nurturing and caring for planet Earth. An Inconvenient Truth's Powerpoint presentation from Al Gore had everyone all ears about the potential damage of global warming. It even encouraged people to change their daily habits in order to better stabilize the planet. While the odds of Earth reaching its breaking point are increasing by the day, so is the awareness of these problems, and this is thanks to the power of cinema.

While recent films about loving Mother Nature have been effective there are also films with the potential to take this powerful theme, and chuck it out the window. The most recent film to accomplish such a feat is a little film called Hoot. This flick intended for children is packed full of meaningful messages about saving endangered species, and respecting the wetlands of Florida. Unfortunately, the message is butchered by silliness and certain actions that children should perhaps not attempt at home.

Roy Eberhardt (Logan Lerman) is a middle-school aged boy that can't seem to live the life of a normal child. Thanks to his father (Neil Flynn, better known as Janitor from the side-splitting sitcom Scrubs) moving from place to place with his job, Roy rarely has the opportunity to keep friends. Once settled in the Florida Everglades region, his life doesn't get better thanks to the aggressive punches of a local, white trash bully.

However, before Roy finds nothing to appreciate in his new home, he befriends a local boy named Mullet Fingers (Cody Linley) who seems to be in the running for Best Huckleberry Finn Impersonation. As it turns out, Mullet is no ordinary child. Despite him not attending school, running around the town barefoot, and living in the bushes, Mullet has a fine knowledge of the local wildlife. In fact, his recent project is to terrorize a construction site where a pancake restaurant is being constructed to save a family of ground-borrowing owls that live on the construction site. Together, Mullet, Roy, and Mullet's tomboyish yet attractive stepsister Beatrice (Brie Larson) fight to save the endangered owls.

Hoot is a film with good intentions that are as clear as day. There is nothing sadder (actually there probably is) than seeing a family of endangered owls being killed for the sake of plates and plates of pancakes covered in fruit and golden maple syrup. In creating a story about kids saving the earth, there are probably thousands of intelligent solutions that could leave children with good ideas about the environment. Unfortunately, Mullet Finger's lack of an education shines through as he comes to the worst conclusions possible. Surprisingly enough, we are supposed to go along with it. Watch Mullet and his friends vandalize bulldozers and police cars, while bounding up a corporate head honcho in duct tape and fish net! Oh the joy of children playing outdoors.

Hoot is based on a popular book by the same name. Since I have not read the book, I cannot claim whether or not the film is loyal. Whether or not this film is true to the book, it is still a convoluted mess that can't properly communicate its good intentions. In addition to the uninspired script, director Wil Shiner treats us to an excessive number of random Everglade helicopter shots that made me wonder whether I was watching a National Geographic montage, or a family comedy.

Despite the flaws of the young protagonists, the actors who portray them prove to be promising young talents. In addition to the children, Luke Wilson pops in as a loveable dumb cop that can't thwart a trio of eco-terrorist children, and singer Jimmy Buffett plays a laid back science teacher that likely uses bongs more than beakers.
THE EXTRAS
Blooper Reel

There are some blooper reels worth appreciating, and others that are a waste of time. Being that this film does not include a scene-stealing comedic actor, these bloopers are flat. This is a montage of children cracking up at themselves; nothing more nothing less.

Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary

There are about a handful of these that can be viewed individually or all at once. None of these include important lost footage or shocking twists. They are simply enhancements of plot points already included in the final print. I suggest skipping this one.

Animals in Action

Being that the animals are some of the best actors in the film, this is a nice featurette that details the training of owls, snakes, dogs, and alligators. I found the segment on training cottonmouth snakes as thespians to be particularly intriguing.

Hoot's Hands-On Habitat Projects

This environment-friendly featurette accompanies the film's message about saving burrowing owls. Various eco-gurus discuss the placement of habitats across the country that save owls from housing developments. The solutions presented here are a tad more legal than say...ecoterrorism.

Backyard Habitat

Much of this featurette repeats what has been already stated in the prior featurettes, "You too can make a difference" and "Save the owls". This one in particular focuses on building a habitat in your own backyard to attract wildlife. All of the points seem reasonable except for installing a hollow trunk in your backyard to attract raccoons. They forgot to mention the "dumping garbage across your backyard" technique in order to attract annoying critters.

Kids in the Cast

Children may enjoy listening to the young cast ramble on, but DVD extra aficionados will be turned off by this one. Cast members rambling on about their experience on the set generally runs out of steam fast. This featurette is no exception.

Visit an Animal Rescue Center

Yes, it is time once again to discuss saving animals. This one diverges from the movie set and goes inside a rescue center where various helpless and injured birds are taken for recovery from broken bones, pesticide poisoning, etc.

Meet the Creator of Hoot

Being that the film is based on a popular book, this featurette is a sit-down with the book's author, Carl Hiaasen. Unfortunately, this is not very impressive. The author spends most of this featurette restating obvious plot points. It seems that this is more DVD filler than something intended to be insightful.

Jimmy Buffett: Filmmaker in Paradise

Jimmy Buffett, who serves as producer, co-star, and music composer for the film, discusses his involvement in the project. This is probably interesting for those interested in the legendary singer. In one instance, Buffett explains how it was his idea to make the film's humor slapsticky. Perhaps this interview was conducted before the reviews were published.

Director on the Set

Director Wil Shriner talks about his directing experience. A lot of this consists of recycled facts from all of the previous featurettes. However, the director's recollection of working in the television industry is mildly amusing.

Commentary- Wil Shriner (Director) and Carl Hiaasen (Book Author)

This is a rather enthusiastic and entertaining track from the writer and director. Shriner's acting and directing experience is evident here as he steals the entire track. While many contributors mutter things quietly, Shriner serves as a sort of host with pre-planned facts, and questions to ask Hiaasen.

The DVD also includes trailers, promotions, and a DVD-ROM that includes three PC games.
THE VIDEO
Widescreen (1.85:1 Aspect Ratio) The DVD transfer itself appears to be clean. As for the direction, Wil Shriner does an impeccable job of capturing the beauty of the Florida Everglade region. Unfortunately, these stunning shots are used a bit excessively from time to time.
THE AUDIO
5.1 Dolby Digital Surround. The sound quality is crystal clear and plays the Jimmy Buffett soundtrack to the fullest extent. The music and sound effects are utilized well in surround sound, and it I highly suggest flipping on a stereo system for this one.
THE PACKAGE
Standard DVD keep case. The trio of young cast members is pictured with a young owl sticking its head out of the ground.
THE FINAL WORD
Hoot is a rather absurd little film that I am not sure I would even recommend for children. While it does have its mildly humorous moments thanks to the always reliable Luke Wilson, it takes a promising premise and crushes it with character flaws and stupid humor. However, the extremely large supply of extras does provide for hours of information on saving animals and the environment. This may be a good rental choice, but keep in mind that there are probably better sources on the Internet for saving animals than this silly little comedy.

Questions? Comments? Just want to talk movies? Drop me a line at dodd@movieweb.com

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