"Empowering Young People Is a Hoot"
What You Need To Know:
HOOT is genuinely funny and has several laugh-out-loud moments, despite some rough storytelling and credibility problems. The movie's environmentalism is not propagandistic, but the vandalism in HOOT is bothersome. At one point, Fingers tells Roy that he's "got to start thinking like an outlaw." Media-wise parents should instruct their children that vandalism is not the way to make a difference in the world. That said, HOOT is a fun, comical story of empowerment.
(C, BB, EE, L, V, N, MM) Light redemptive worldview with positive moral elements where friendship is extolled and young people are empowered to work together and make a difference in the world, plus some strong Environmental focus as children try and save a plot of land where owl nests are from being turned into a restaurant but these elements do not seem propagandistic; no obscenities but some light phrases such as “we’re screwed” and substitute words like “darn”; light violence centers around a bully who has it in for the new boy in school, bully pushes boy’s face against window of the school bus in response boy punches bully in the nose and breaks it, a golf ball hits boy in the head twice, bully and his mom wrestle over an apology letter that has been given to them, bully drags boy into school janitor closet to beat him up but boy escapes, bully is seen after he has been tied up to a tree wearing just his boxer shorts, blood is seen from a dog bite on another boy’s arm, bully falls onto a bunch of mousetraps, some quick cuts of alligators snapping at people and guard dogs chasing boy; no sexual content; naturalistic upper male nudity as children are in swimsuits and bully is shown in his boxers as he is tied up to a tree; no alcohol; no smoking; and, miscellaneous immorality includes children lying to a doctor (but the doctor knows they are hiding something and it is actually quite comical) and a boy vandalizes a construction site and spray-paints a police officer’s squad car to keep the adults from plowing the ground where the owl’s nests are.
HOOT is a fun and comical story of empowerment as three young people (Logan Lerman, Brie Larson and Cody Linley) try to stop a big corporation from building a restaurant on land that is home to several nests of a protected species of owl.
Roy Eberhardt (Logan Lerman) and his family have moved again. This time it is from the wide open skies of Montana to a small town in Florida. Once again, Roy’s young life is uprooted and he is forced to start all over again in a new world making new friends at a new school.
Roy’s new world is not going to be easy. His first day on the bus, he has an encounter with the school’s resident bully. While his face is pinned to the window, he sees a mysterious young boy running barefoot outside. He decides that he has to find out who this mystery runner is and where he is going.
Meanwhile, across town, a construction foreman is having trouble keeping his survey sticks in the ground. Every time they lay out the survey that will be the home to the next link in the restaurant chain of Mother Paula’s Pancake House, some vandal comes along at night and uproots all the survey stakes.
The local police put their worst man on the job to find these vandals. Officer Delinko (Luke Wilson) is a bumbling, low-level patrolman who has aspirations of one day being a big-time detective. He must solve the mystery of this Mother Paula’s Vandal.
Young Roy is far ahead of Officer Delinko, however. He meets the young mystery boy, known only as Mullet Fingers, and soon learns that the vandal that the whole town is searching for is a pre-teen boy with a penchant for saving endangered species.
Roy learns that Mullet Fingers is vandalizing everything simply to keep them from destroying the owls’ sanctuary, and Roy joins in the fight. A girl named Beatrice joins too. With the official ground-breaking ceremony for the restaurant just days away, these three young people must find a way to convince all the adults of the city that the restaurant may create 12 new jobs for the town but it will also destroy a preserved natural habitat.
HOOT is an enjoyable movie. It has some completely unbelievable elements and the storytelling is a little rough, but children, parents and some adults will find themselves entertained. The violence is mild and comical and provides some genuinely funny and laugh-out-loud moments.
The elements of environmentalism, although prevalent, are not offensive. The movie does not feel like propaganda, as some environmental movies are. It is just a fun story where children see that they can be empowered to make a difference in the world.
One minor questionable element, though, is the vandalism. At one point, Mullet Fingers tells Roy that he’s, “got to start thinking like an outlaw.” Media-wise parents should instruct their children that vandalism and destruction of property is not the way to make a difference in the world. Young people can be empowered without having to be outlaws.
Other than that one element, which can easily be discussed between parents and children, the movie is fun. Most audiences will go to the theatre and have a hoot.