Sunday, February 2, 2014

Monkeybone (2001) Netflix

This movie is bananas! (kill me)
Rating:  3 out of 5 MONKEYS!

Plot Synopsis:  A cartoonist gets into an accident and ends up in a coma.  He ends up losing his body to his monkey alter ego and then adventures into another body to go after his other body.  The plot isn’t really anything special or coherent.
The Good:

-Lots o’ monkeys in the opening.

-Oh, hey, Bridget Fonda is in this!  And she’s kind of slumming it here.

-The opening credits reveal a pretty solid cast on paper.  Bridget Fonda, Chris Kattan, Bob Odenkirk, Dave Foley just to name a few.

-Hey, remember when Brendan Fraser was considered “A-List” or at least rising “B-List”?  He’s not terrible in the role, I think he has more range than most people give him credit for.

-Dave Foley is Dave Foley-ing it up and it’s fabulous.

-The visuals of Down Town are mostly practical and quite impressive.  They are also acid drenched, high octane nightmare fuel.

-Rose McGowen as Miss Kitty, a very small role but well played.  Also her cat form makes me feel funny in places.

-I really enjoy the mythology and world building the movie does.  It’s appropriately dream-like and interesting.

-This movie makes me want to play Psychonauts.  Like really bad.

-Oh hey, Bridget Fonda shower scene.  It’s purely in silhouette but I’m down.

-A guest spot by Steve King or at least a reasonable facsimile.

-I am now downloading Psychonauts as I finish watching this.

-The orangutan making sexual advances at Brendan Fraser is outshining Monkeybone Stu.

-Miss Kitty murders the humanoid rat guard.

-Death kicks Stu in the ass and out of Down Town and into the body of Chris Kattan as a dead gymnast.  He single handedly saves this movie from going completely down the shitter.  Now, Kattan is a brilliant physical comedian and I think he may have been a better lead.

-Dave Foley is always willing to be naked.  That man is not ashamed of his body.

-“We don’t need invitations, we have diploma’s.”

The Bad:

-One knock against this are the visuals which are, at times, way too freaky, like to a point where it turns me off the movie.

-Why does Death’s head explode and why does she keep a cabinet full of spares?  It explodes at the least convenient time and does nothing to help them.

-Brendan Fraser is good as Stu Miley (ugh) but as Monkeybone possessed Stu he’s not that great.  He just isn’t a rubber faced physical comedian in this vein.  He did a lot of physical comedy in George of the Jungle, which I liked, but it was a different kind of physical comedy.  This just doesn’t work for me.

-Why am I watching Brendan Fraser do a striptease?

-Once Monkeybone makes it into Stu’s body the movie takes a drastic turn in tone.  I would have been more interested in “hero’s journey” through a nightmare land with the plug being pulled acting as the ticking clock and Monkeybone acting as a cowardly, deceiving sidekick on Stu’s journey back to his body.  Like, every bit of progress Stu makes Monkeybone is chattering about danger and why he should just give up.  Of course the connection between Monkeybone and Stu would have to be greater, in this Stu seems to hate Monkeybone right from the get go.

-Brendan Fraser is not Jim Carrey and I think they thought he was.

-This movie is starting to lose me.

-The movie stabs blindly at social commentary but it just hasn’t earned the cache to make any kind of statement and it sort of misses its mark and loses the message in the process.

-This goes from visually interesting, concept and character driven plot to lame Scarecrow scheme cooked up in the pages of the worst Batman based media ever.

-The second half of this movie is virtually worthless.  There is a total dead point from the time Monkeybone inhabits Stu’s body until when Stu inhabits the dead gymnast.  But they take any potential the movie may have had and flush it down the toilet with the tone change.  Chris Kattan tries his best to save the movie but it goes from full of potential to shitty Bat-Villain plan to crazy farce and nothing after the first half works for me.

-Why is there fucking musical number in the middle of this?  There’s been a pretty solid soundtrack up until this point but why am I listening to Brendan Fraser sing “Brick House”.

-They handle the gymnastic stunts with all the subtlety of Gymkata.

-Great, a lame South Park reference.

-It ends on kind of a whimper.

The Ugly:

-The practical effects and the stop motion effects are really good but the computer generated stuff leaves a bit to be desired.

Final Thoughts:  I originally saw this movie in theaters when it came out.  I had a friend who was a bit enamored with Brendan Fraser movies.  We saw this one and Bedazzled, this one because he thought it would be funny and Bedazzled because he wanted to see sexy Elizabeth Hurley.  We gave him shit about seeing both of them for a very long time.

            The movie is based on a graphic novel called Dark Town, I have not read Dark Town but reading the Wikipedia article on it makes it sound like it had a better grasp of its own concept and makes me want to read it.  The book seems to be more like a hero’s journey which sounds more interesting then what we got here.  The movie starts solid enough but quickly falls apart and would have stayed fallen apart if it weren’t for Chris Kattan and Bridget Fonda, both of whom elevate the third act to watchable status.  Without them there just would be nothing there to recommend.  The movie has great effects and provided me with a couple of laughs which earned it 3 stars, the threshold of watchability, but while the visuals are well done they are, at times, terrifying which I think would alienate most of the tween crowd the rating suggests that they are going for and there just isn’t much there if you are older.  That and the mixed tone sort of leave this a movie without a niche, confused and meandering with little point.  If you can watch it for free, or the cost of a Netflix membership, you could do worse with your 90 minutes.

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