Volume 94, Issue 83

Wednesday, February 28, 2001


A film about food

Monkey Bone not for kids

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LeAnn Rimes crosses over - Phe Cullen covers the classics

Monkey Bone not for kids

Photo by Peter Iovino
WATCH OUT, BABY WHO'S THAT? DON'T LOOK NOW THERE'S A MONKEY ON YOUR BACK. Brendan Fraser and his little friend groove to vintage George Michael in a scene from Monkey Bone.

Monkey Bone
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Bridget Fonda, Chris Kattan
Directed By: Henry Selick

By Craig Robertson
Gazette Staff

At first, Monkey Bone may seem like a children's film, but this is not the case. The film has a sexuality that is clearly designed for adults and is as entertaining as what appears to be its major influence, Beetlejuice.

To aptly describe the weirdness of this film is difficult, but it can be best categorized as the "son of Beetlejuice." Monkey Bone's creative and twisted mise-en-scene is reminiscent of the world of director Tim Burton. Though Burton had no association with this film, it is directed by one of his pupils.

Henry Selick previously directed two of Burton's animated productions (A Nightmare Before Christmas, James And The Giant Peach) and that specific style can be found here. It is the imagination of the film that is most interesting.

The film focuses on the relationship of Stu (Brendan Fraser) and Julie (Bridget Fonda). Stu is a cartoonist who has just found success with the television adaptation of his comic strip, Monkey Bone. Before Stu can secure the happiness he has been looking for, he and Julie are in a car accident which leaves him in a coma. It is here that the twisted fun begins.

In his coma, Stu is sucked into the imaginary world of "Downtown." This is the place where coma-victims wait until the day they wake – or die. This world is comprised of dreams and nightmares and Stu is a celebrity here because of his creative imagination.

There are plenty of strange characters in this place, but the most interesting is definitely Monkey Bone, a monkey who is an obvious symbol of Stu's own sexual desire.

The inhabitants of Downtown convince Stu to cheat Death (Whoopi Goldberg) and return to Earth before his sister pulls the plug on him. However, they have plans of their own and allow Monkey Bone to return in Stu's place in an attempt to get more nightmares for their amusement; leaving Stu to fend for himself and get home on his own.

Monkey Bone is a very entertaining film and suprisingly, its appeal extends beyond a young audience. The sex jokes are enough to keep older audiences amused. The special effects and set designs are dazzling and enough to make the film interesting to watch on their own. At times, it seems the filmmakers may have consumed too many hallucinogenic substances.

The movie's script is thin but there is enough to keep the plot moving. Fraser and Fonda do their best with the material at hand and have a surprising chemistry that might not be expected in a film like this. The best asset to the film, besides the special effects, is the performance by Saturday Night Live regular Chris Kattan. Describing his character would spoil the film, but his third-act appearance is comedic genius. It's the kind of physical comedy that rivals Jim Carrey.

Overall, Monkey Bone is a much better film than one might expect. The film's twisted imagination is fresh and different. At times, it feels like watching a Burton film (even the soundtrack is similar to the work of Burton's regular composer, Danny Elfman), but this is not a negative point.

The idea of a dream/nightmare landscape is pleasant and the one presented here is much more friendly than in last year's The Cell. It is the kind of zany world that would make Freud jump for joy. So, if you want something a little bizarre, go see Monkey Bone.

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