Hoot (review)

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Cute baby animals in danger! What’s not to love? Unfortunately, quite a bit. This tweener dramedy pits junior-high-schoolers against local cops (including a bumbling Luke Wilson: The Family Stone) and a national corporation in a fight to prevent a chain of pancake restaurants from building on a south Florida site that’s supposed to be protected because burrowing owls nest there, if only big biz would respect the law. But there just ain’t enough owls — or enough save-the-planet passion — in this oddly disjointed flick, which feels like two (or more) episodes of a kid-power TV show jammed together into one nonsensical entity. Writer/director Wil Shriner, working from Carl Hiaasen’s first young-adult novel, gives us unforgivably obtuse grownups, way too much slapstick, and a plot that requires characters making wildly illogical assumptions. And that’s on top of the two unrelated misadventures of eighth-grader Roy Eberhardt (Logan Lerman: The Butterfly Effect) bumping uncomfortably up against each other — it would seem that Roy’s run-ins with school bullies and battles with soulless corporate drones (including Tim Blake Nelson’s [Holes] surveyor) could be tied together in a finding-his-self-confidence kind of motif, but that utterly fails to happen. Some truly good new Jimmy Buffett tunes (Buffett also appears as Roy’s science teacher) aren’t enough to make this a must-see.

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