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movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Monkeybone

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Bridget Fonda
Director: Henry Selick
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 87 Minutes
Release Date: February 2001
Genres: Animation, Comedy

*Also starring: Megan Mullally, Dave Foley, Chris Kattan, Whoopi Goldberg, Harry Knowles, Rose McGowan, Megan Mullaly

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

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 demented Downtown.

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

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