A freak car crash, (involving a giant inflatable monkey) sends cartoonist Stu Miley (Brenden Fraser) into coma and into a nightmarish and bizarre between world called Downtown where coma patients must wait for their ticket back. There he meets an aspect of his twisted personality, a character he created called Monkeybone.
As Stu waits in limbo, back in the real world where his girlfriend (Bridget Fonda) waits for him to recover, his sister, Kimmy plans to pull the plug. Monkeybone and Stu discover her plans and try to escape back to the real world. But a double-cross nearly dooms Stu and his life altogether and sends Monkeybone on a crazy (and somewhat raunchy) escapade in the real world.
About the movie:
I found this movie somewhat painful to watch and was left wondering how anyone could think that something this bizarre and poorly written would do well in the theaters. (It didn't do that well).
As a movie, this one is pretty odd overall, and the script is below par at best. There are quite a few spots that could use more exposition, and the main characters definitely needed to be fleshed out more. None of them make you care a whit about what happens to them. Bridget Fonda is nice to look at, but she was totally luke-warm in her role as Stu's girlfriend (not that she had much to work with) and Brendan Fraser's character is so neurotic as to make you wonder why she'd even like him. Whoopi Goldberg has a cameo as Death, but her role is pretty much a yawner as well.
This is not to mention that there are some pretty gross things in this movie. Chris Kattan (who proves in this role that he is a fantastic physical comedian, something worth seeing, if only for his acting) running around as a reanimated dead guy with a broken neck was extremely entertaining, for his physical comedy, but the bit with the organs falling out onto people was in really bad taste and more than a little gross.
The end result of all of this is that you have a weak movie that subsists mainly on bodily function jokes and sexual gags for almost all of its humor, and of that, most of it is of the extremely low brow and immature sort. If you happen to like that sort of humor, great, but me, I got tired of being browbeaten with it by halfway through the movie.
The only thing semi redeeming about this movie was the sophisticated stop motion photography that was used in creating the Monkeybone character. It really is impressive to see what they pulled off, somewhat akin to the sort of stuff done in Who-Framed Roger Rabbit. It's a shame it was wasted in a movie that ended up being so painful to watch.
Neat special effects don't make a movie. Script, plot and acting do, and while Fraser and Kattan were decent in their parts, the rest was sorely lacking. Not the most painful movie I've seen, but it's lurking down there nearby.
About the DVD:
Monkeybone comes in a standard hard case in 1.85:1 widescreen format with 5.1 Dolby digital sound. It contains English and French audio tracks and English and Spanish subtitles. The picture and sound are quite good.
The cover of this DVD release claims that it's the SPECIAL EDITION. Considering that there never was a regular DVD release of this movie, that label is a bit pretentious. Of course, it does make up for it by being loaded with extra goodies, not that the extra goodies make up for the movie itself.
Among the special features are, a director's commentary, 11 extended scenes, an alternate ending (both with optional director's commentary), 7 animation studies for scenes in the movie, a gallery of stills, and the obligatory theatrical trailers.
The director's commentary is interesting, as he talks about what it took to put the movie together, mostly from a production point of view. His commentary helps explain how certain scenes and shots were put together and the amount of work needed to make them solid and believable. Interestingly, near the end of the commentary, there seems to be a sense of consternation in his conversation as he subtly wondered in a roundabout way why his movie hadn't done better in the box office.
I'm not a film critic, but I probably could answer that one. It was just too off the wall, a little too weird and simply had humor that was too immature (and at one point, gross) for most audiences. I certainly would suggest previewing this before letting kids watch it.
Anyway, back to the point. While all these goodies on the DVD are nice, they really don't make up for the fact that the movie itself is so poor. 2 stars for a decent DVD release and a not so good movie.