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MONKEYBONE

SYNOPSIS:
Stu Miley (Brendan Fraser) has the world at his feet. The cartoonist has just had his strip, Monkeybone, made into a TV pilot with the promise of a series – and merchandising tie-ins. But Stu’s priority is to propose to his girlfriend Julie (Bridget Fonda). While trying to get home to pop the question properly, a bizarre car accident involving an inflatable prototype leaves him in a coma. He finds his mind has gone to Downtown, a place where nightmares are made. There he finds the “real” Monkeybone (voiced by John Turrturo), a manic simian with an overactive libido. Meanwhile, time is running out for Stu in the real world – if he doesn’t revive, his life support will be turned off. The only way out of Downtown is with an exit pass; but Monkeybone has plans to use Stu to snaffle one for his own purposes.

“We first meet Stu (Fraser) sitting in a theatrette wearing his name badge, S. Miley. Isn’t that a hoot. But we shouldn’t laugh, this comedy is seriously misguided; like a guided missile that lands on its rear end. Freewheeling humour, stapled to a clever idea about a cartoonist who lands in a weird purgatory world where nightmares are the stuff of life (death is played by Whoopi), is whipped along by visual effects and some genuinely spooky ideas. But the script turns into a mess as the story entangles itself on its own simplicity. Brendan Fraser deserves better than this, and he helps save the film from a fate worse than Whoopi. Bridget Fonda gets to play it for real as the heartbroken love interest, amidst an overdosed comedy scenario that just might appeal to younger audiences with a spare hour and a half. There is always a feeling that the film’s potential has not been found, and it suffers from a complete lack of engagement with the audience – at least this member of it.”
Andrew L. Urban

”Nice pictures, shame about the story. Monkeybone is a considerable visual achievement by animation master Henry Selick, of James and the Giant Peach and Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas fame. The worlds he creates overflow with striking images but the plot in which they're housed is so mind numbing it's hard to care what happens to hero Stu or his annoying alter ego come to life. The basic idea is a good one - an introverted creative genius on the brink of major professional and personal success who is struck down and his spirit sent into a limbo-land called Downtown where it must confront his own nightmares. Downtown looks like the amusement park from hell; its population an arresting mix of actors in monster suits, stop-motion creatures and computer-generated beings like Monkeybone. The sparring between Stu and his id in this landscape is fun for a while but the monkey's antics become tiresome rather quickly. It doesn't bode well for the inevitable twist that finds Monkeybone inhabiting Stu's body in the physical world where his doctor girlfriend Julie (Bridget Fonda) has been trying to revive him with her own nightmare juice special recipe before the life support plug is pulled. After the big switcheroo meek and mild Stu becomes a rampant, libido-fuelled madman and the film runs downhill at an alarming pace. Fraser is a fine actor whose unrestrained mugging and strutting reveals yet more of his considerable talent but what he's asked to do - jump around the bedroom with Julie like a monkey for starters - is so dumb its likely to frighten children and bore adults in the audience. Desperate plot measures reach their nadir when a corpse being dissected suddenly reanimates (hi honey, it's me, Stu) and runs through the city with its organs falling out. A messy end to a messy fantasy that's ok only if you don't care about story and are happy just to look at the amazing pictures.”
Richard Kuipers

“On the surface, Monkeybone is a fairly crass comic fantasy; but first impressions can be deceiving. The film has a dark psychological undercurrent just below that surface. But knowing that director Henry Selick’s credits include The Nightmare Before Christmas goes some way to explaining Monkeybone’s more sinister elements. Selick creates a frenzied, bizarre underworld in Downtown, a lurid vision of a place where nightmares are stock-in-trade. In the first half of the film, there are plenty of wacky comic delights and rather creepy goings-on; including a dig at Hollywood style merchandising that combines both. The problem is in the second half, which feels tacked-on and missing the style of the opening segment. It also lacks the darker aspects introduced earlier, opting instead to simply degenerate into a series of farcical chases. The result is a disjointed movie that I suspect could have been a lot better. Brendan Fraser displays his comic chops; again playing a multi-part role as he did in Bedazzled. While his Stu is sweet enough, he really comes into his own when the character is “invaded” by Monkeybone – including a truly outlandish “love” scene that defies description. Bridget Fonda doesn’t get much scope as Julie, but fits the bill as Stu’s loyal girlfriend. Chris Kattan has some great moments as a corpse; while Whoopi Goldberg almost literally whoops it up as Death. Although Monkeybone doesn’t live up to its early promise, it is nonetheless different enough and has enough out there weirdness to warrant a second look.”
David Edwards

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 2
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

MONKEYBONE (M)
(US)

CAST: Brendan Fraser, Bridget Fonda, Rose McGowan, Whoopi Goldberg

DIRECTOR: Henry Selick

PRODUCER: Mark Radcliffe, Michael Barnathan

SCRIPT: Kaja Blackley (novel), Sam Hamm

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrew Dunn

EDITOR: Mark Warner, Nicholas C. Smith, Jon Poll

MUSIC: Anne Dudley

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Bill Boes

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: May 31, 2001 (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane)

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: December 27, 2001







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