Monkeying Around

A film which relies mostly on toilet humor and silly gags to evoke laughter.

Judging from his acting credits, Brendan Fraser seems to have mastered the art of playing the dull-witted nerd - witness his star turn in "Bedazzled", followed by a similar performance in "Monkeybone", a movie in which he plays Stu Miley, a cartoonist bemused by the success of his comic strip, Monkeybone. The star of the comic strip is - you guessed it! - a cheekily-neurotic monkey who gets his jollies from other people's discomfort. Preparing to propose to his long-time girlfriend Julie (Bridget Fonda), Stu is unexpectedly involved in an automobile accident, leaving him in a coma.

It's here that "Monkeybone" takes its first - and only - creative twist. Deeply unconscious, Stu finds himself in an alternate reality, Downtown, where he meets the creatures of his worst nightmares. Trapped in a place from which no escape is possible, Stu ,together with his comic-strip anti-hero, hatches a daring plan to steal an exit pass, return to the real world and marry his one true love...only to have it all come to naught when Monkeybone steals the pass and returns as Stu. Needless to say, chaos ensues, as the-monkey-formerly-known-as-Stu goes on a rampage, while the real Stu struggles to escape Downtown and regain his life.

"Monkeybone" is meant to be funny; however, with the exception of one or two moments of real hilarity, this film relies mostly on toilet humor and silly gags to evoke laughter. While the monolithic evil of Downtown is well-executed, it cannot carry this movie across the hurdles of a completely-implausible storyline and a cast which is completely lacking in screen chemistry. In fact, while the star couple seem bored throughout, there's a great cameo by Whoopi Goldberg as Death.

Special mention should also be made of the effects, especially those which animate the Monkeybone character, and the characters, which are gruesomely efficient - they are, after all, the brainchild of Henry Selick, better known for "The Nightmare Before Christmas"; however, they are simply not enough, making this film one to miss.

This article was first published on 20 Jun 2001.