MONKEYBONE is the second film this week -- the other was 3000 MILES TO
GRACELAND -- that doesn't live up to the promise of its trailers.
MONKEYBONE is by far the better of the two, which isn't exactly high praise.
The movie's twisted, silly and sometimes sick humor comes from the minds of
director Henry Selick (THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS), screenwriter Sam
Hamm (BATMAN) and comics writer Kaja Blackley (DARK TOWN). The stunning
visuals look like a cross with THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, the bar scene
from STAR WARS and a nightmare vision of an amusement park. Although the
images devilishly delight the audience, the script is as dead as the
afterlife, called Downtown, in which most of the movie takes place. Whoopi
Goldberg has a high old time as Death, the queen of the underworld.
Brendan Fraser, the star of MONKEYBONE, has two modes: hilarious, as he was
in my personal favorite of his, BLAST FROM THE PAST, and awful, as in DUDLEY
DO-RIGHT. To be fair, he is a wonderfully gifted comedic actor and his
failures come mainly from an inability to say no to terrible scripts.
This time Fraser plays Stu Miley, as in S. Miley (get it?), a cartoonist who
created "Monkeybone, America's most disturbed comic strip." He met his
girlfriend, Dr. Julie McElroy (Bridget Fonda), at The Sleep Institute,
where he went to get help with his severe and bizarre nightmares.
After being hit on the head in a car accident, he goes into a deep coma,
sending him to Downtown, from which he may never return. At least not
unless Death gives him a gold-plated exit pass. Accompanying him on his
journey is his sidekick, the sassy Monkeybone, who has a fixation on women's
breasts and on his own lack of private parts, which he blames on his
creator, Stu. Rose McGowan does a sweet turn as Kitty, Stu's helper in the
Chris Kattan, as a dead gymnast, gets the most laughs. An organ donor, he
has doctors hot on his trail, trying to get his organs. He uses them like
water balloons to toss at people. If it sounds gross, it is. Personally, I
was impressed by Kattan's acting but found the jokes merely stupid.
Finally, a piece of friendly advice for Fraser. Please treat the projects
that you are offered as you would a serious illness. Once you receive the
script, ask for a second opinion.
MONKEYBONE runs 1:27. It is rated PG-13 for crude humor and some nudity and
would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.
My son Jeffrey and his friends, all about 12, had different opinions of the
film. Jeffrey (**) said that he didn't laugh once but that he thought the
plot was imaginative. Maxim (***) commented on how much he liked the
characters and the Fantasyland part. Sam (*** 1/2) said that he found the
movie very funny. Nickolas (*** 1/2) mentioned how interesting he found the
whole setup. All of them liked the organ donor part.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes