ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  henry selick

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  sci-fi

LENGTH  -  93 minutes

RELEASED  -  25 december 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  20th century fox

OFFICIAL SITE  -  monkeybone

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $75,000,000
monkeybone - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from monkeybone at

buy the dvd from monkeybone at

in a coma, a cartoonist finds himself trapped within his own cartoon.

ben stiller was original cast to voice monkeybone.


picture from monkeybone

picture from monkeybone

picture from monkeybone


one out of four possible stars

Unfortunately this comedy doesn't have any comedy in it. And although the premise is original, there's nothing original about its execution. The best special effects in the world can't improve upon eighty-seven minutes of the worst performances ever given by a group of actors. With a cast that includes Brendan Fraser, Bridget Fonda, and Whoopi Goldberg, actors who have all given exceptional performances in other movies, it's surprising that none of them are able to save this movie. Perhaps its the film's reliance on fart jokes or the lack of continuity in the script, or the fact that the art director should have been jailed after the release of this film.

Whatever the reason, this film should only be shown in prisons. As punishment. Although it combines several types of visual tricks, like live action, stop-motion, claymation miniatures, puppets, and CGI, it's so garish and crude that these techniques can hardly be admired. The whole nature of the Monkeybone character is made up of disgusting jokes, and while that humor might be successful in some films (the American Pie series does it pretty well), the humor in Monkeybone just hovers between the lame and the stupid. And that's pretty amazing considering the time, money, and energy that that was put into this film.

During its opening weekend, this film brought in just over two and a half million at the box office. And during the second, it brought in just about one million dollars. It seems that the filmmakers here should have realized that this film was going to falter at the box office. It might have fared better as a television movie on one of the many specialty channels on cable. Or perhaps it should have just been thrown onto the video market. It might have developed some sort of cult following, with its strange subject matter, if it hadn't been marketed day and night all over the United States.

It's obvious that this is the type of film with a limited audience. Well, perhaps not that obvious, considering I had to see it before I realized that it wasn't the film for me. And the filmmakers and the advertising department should have realized this too, as they were the ones responsible for creating the marketing campaign. Perhaps they were relying on the looks of Brendan Fraser to create some wide appeal for this film. Whatever the reason, there's nothing appealing about this film. That might seem like a harsh pronouncement for this film, but allowing for the fact that I'm probably not the intended audience for this film, it's hard to see it appealing to any segment of the population.

I have to comment as well on a few of the performances in this film. I realize I already said that all those award winners and nominees up there gave sub-standard performances, but I also have to say a few words on John Turturro's portrayal as the mundane yet effervescent Monkeybone. It's quite rare to see Tuturro give a bad performance, but I believe, with this film, that he's succeeded on that front. His character is more annoying and abrasive than anything. It's certain that this one bad performance, of many bad performances, was only part of the reason for this film's shortcomings.

A lack of attention to humor that consisted of anything more advanced than jokes concerning genitals, a production design that's garish and tawdry, and a script which begs to be fixed, this film fails on every front. It's almost a shame that the elements of this film did not come together better, because the idea of creating a fantasy world out of so many different filmmaking techniques is a challenge that future filmmakers might be unwilling to undertake. The money tossed into the budget of this film is probably on the scale of that filmic failure from a few years ago, The Postman.

It's doubtful that this film will be able to make up its losses for its studio, even with video, dvd, and rental sales. Of course, with all the "creative accounting" occurring in Hollywood, I'd be willing to be that the budget for this film was artificially inflated, just to make the bottom line look a little less attractive to the tax man. So in any case, if you're thinking of seeing this film, make sure you're thirteen years old, appreciate fart jokes, and don't care a whim for acting ability. If those attributes describe you, than you'll enjoy Monkeybone.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content 2000 - - ninth symphony films - photographs 20th century fox 2001
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