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IN SHORT: All that's missing is the letter "r". [Rated PG-13 for Crude Humor and Some Nudity. 90 minutes]
The nudity in the rating comes from a purple faced Dave Foley. The purple isn't embarrassment, though one day it may well be. It's the result of a stuffed monkey doll that farts a noxious gas. Wait ... it gets better (sic).
It's very simple. If you laugh at the cartoon which opens Henry Selick's Monkeybone, you'll probably find half a dozen or so chuckles in the rest of the flick. We counted our audience's reaction, that's how incredibly disappointed we were with the latest effort from the guy who did The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach.
Though we acknowledge that we do read comics, we never saw one and only published issue of the comic that this movie is "based upon". What we do know from the press notes is that the original series was "ominous and portentous"which means Hollywood immediately sensed it would make a great "comedy!"
Are you getting an ominous and portentous feeling in the pit of your stomach? We love 'toons and animation and the live action/ 3-D blend looks just as fabulous as Nightmare did. That's about all the good stuff we can write about this flick, a dud from the word go.
Monkeybone is one very long, for the most part very unfunny joke about the psychological effects of First Engorgement. We can't come up with the proper description for those of the feminine persuasion but remember it as being something akin to a joyously surprised "what the hell is that???!!" In the case of little Stu Miley, it triggers Anthropomorphic Psychological Schizophrenia which will affect him his entire life. The phrase "choke the monkey" takes on a life of its own. And nary a bellylaugh is to be found. Unless, perhaps, you are an eleven year old male virgin.
The grownup Stu (Brendan Fraser), as we learn from the backstory, used to be a very disturbed individual. An artist by trade, his early work literally put his nightmares to paper. Unable to sleep because of his dreams, Stu checked in to the Sleep Institute, where the ever lovely Dr. Julie McElroy (Bridget Fonda) cured his problems and won his heart. Finding success as the creator of the comic strip Monkeybone, which essentially channels his psychosis into the character of a prank pulling monkey, Stu is about to achieve wealth and fame beyond his dreams in the form of merchandising rights negotiated by his syndicate agent Herb (Dave Foley). The prospect of wealth and fame don't make Stu a happy camper and on the very evening that he had planned to propose Julie , a freak car accident sends him hurling into the netherland between the Living and the Realm of the Dead, a twilight world called Downtown, inhabited by animated characters from Stu's nightmares and a lovely pair of breasts named Kitty (Rose McGowan). The leader of the pack is Stu's cartoon character Monkeybone (voiced by John Turturro), determined to make his creators life a nightmare.
Three months on a respirator later, older sister Kimmie (Megan Mullally) is ready to pull the plug on Stu but Love being what Love is, he communicates his survival to Julie in some kind of dream. When the moment comes, though, it's the monkey who comes back to Life, in Stu's body. Only at this point do the jokes in Sam Hamm's script begin to show any life. It's far too late.
Stu, needing to set things right, begs Death (Whoopi Goldberg) for one hour to profess his enduring love for the woman of his dreams. While his wish is granted the only body available belongs to Stu Number Two (Chris Kattan), a gymnast whose neck was broken in a freak accident. Relegated to the organ donor pile, his resurrection really pisses off the team of surgeons that are harvesting body parts, which leads to a rather frantic chase through the streets of wherever this farce takes place.
The gags are visual at this point, so we haven't spilled anything that you couldn't imagine yourself. We sat munching our large bag of golden topped popcorn not with the automatic hand to mouth motion associated with eyeballs fixed to the screen, but because we were so bored with Monkeybone we had little else to do but get our fingers good 'n slimed up. The movie's a major disappointment.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Monkeybone, he would have paid...
Cool visuals do not a worthwhile watching experience make.
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