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HOOT

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If only it were so: A trio of young adolescents in Florida prevents a retail development from destroying the habitat of some tiny ground-burrowing owls. Sure they resort to vandalism, physical abuse and assorted other petty crimes to achieve their ends ... but really, isn't all for the birds? Wil Shriner directs this family comedy-with-a-muddled-message, adapted from Carl Hiaasen's best-selling novel. While nobly intended, Hoot is so simplistic and formulaic that it may as well be any other film about a couple of misfit kids who defy authority with impunity. Shriner bolsters his case for saving the environment by carefully shooting in the still-pristine parts of Florida that belie any paved-over reality you might have seen on your last visit. Look for the Gulf Coast's own Jimmy Buffet as a high school science teacher ... though as an actor, he should stick to singing. (AH)

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