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Directed By: Henry Selick
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Bridget Fonda, Rose McGowan, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Kattan, Dave Foley, John Turturro
Rated: PG-13 (Crude Humor / Language / Brief Nudity) Running Time: 88 Min.

So, I'd finished my 'Awards Nominee' blitz, to catch up on the couple of critically acclaimed films I missed, and thought hey, now it's time for something fun and goofy. Oh, here's a comedy called Monkeybone. It stars Brendan Fraser. He's a goofy actor. And look, it's from the guys who did The Nightmare Before Christmas. Sounds like fun to me!

I entered the nearly filled theatre with high hopes. As the previews began, I started having second thoughts. First up was the trailer for something starring David Arquette called See Spot Run!, followed by the newest film from the Dumb & Dumber crowd. Oh boy... what have I gotten myself into? I didn't start to panic until the final preview. That trailer was for The Adventures of Joe Dirt, starring everyone's favorite whiner, David Spade. Keep calm... maybe these will turn out to be great movies. Even if they aren't, that doesn't mean Monkeybone isn't all it's cracked up to be, right? I cautiously opened my jumbo pack of red vines and settled in to watch the film.
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The movie began with an animated title sequence, which seemed to get laughs from the many kids present. This being a matinee showing, there were a lot of children in the audience. Either their parents didn't notice the PG-13 rating, or they didn't think much about it. After all, this was a movie starring George of the Jungle, produced by those who made James and the Giant Peach. Junior ought to love it!

And then the atom bomb went off. I mean, the true significance of the word 'monkeybone' was revealed, as a cartoon no less. Brace yourself... Monkeybone is a penis joke. Ah, I get it. Yeah, real funny. I cringed as I heard one small child ask her mother what was going on. (They walked out ten minutes later, never to return.)

Well, it's finally happened. Call it optimism or call it denial, but it's the thing we never thought could possibly occur... Jim Carrey has started to turn down comedic roles. I can hear the studio executives now; "Carrey won't do the picture. Who can we get? Hey, how about Brendan Fraser? He can act like a monkey! Yeah, green light all the way, baby!" Monkeybone seems taylor-made for Ace Ventura fans, but without the spark of originality Carrey would have brought to the role, it's just infantile, crude and unfunny.

The plot, such as it is, is basically the old 'body switching' routine, jazzed up with some tacky special effects. The great stop-motion wizardry director Henry Selick is known for is completely absent, and the big effects sequences go by with almost enough weird camera angles and lenses to disguise how shoddy they actually are.

Still thinking of seeing this movie? For me, the best scenes featured Whoopi Goldberg, Hollywood's 'center square' herself, as Death. Oh, and Chris Kattan plays a dead guy. Also, John Turturro is the voice of the monkey, but don't let that change your mind!!! Lastly, I never realized how much nudity a PG-13 film could get away with until now, but don't let that change your mind either... it's Dave Foley. Eww...

Allen J. Vestal

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