I know there was a reason I bought this movie but to be honest, I can’t remember what it was. I remember going to see this in theaters but the only reason I went to see it I think was because I had already seen the other movies playing at the time that I had wanted to see. Yeh, I admit that is a little mean, especially since this is somewhat of a comic book movie, but it is the truth. I still wish I knew why I bought this DVD. Oh well, here is today’s movie, Monkeybone.
The plot: Cartoonist Stu Miley is at a meeting where his agent, Herb, is showing the pilot for a cartoon based off of his comic strip, Monkeybone. During a meet and greet, where Herb keeps trying to get Stu to meet with people that want to sell Monleybone merchandise, Stu tells Herb that he doesn’t care about the money as he plans on proposing to his girlfriend Julie. Stu and Julie leave the party but find that Herb had stuffed several test products into Stu’s car for him to look at. As they are about to drive off, Stu accidentally causes a Monkeybone raft to inflate, causing him to get into a wreck. Stu ends up in a coma and his consciousness is transported to a carnival-like landscape called Down Town. Wandering around Down Town, Stu sees several creatures that had given him nightmares as a kid before he goes into a bar. Inside the bar, Stu sees Monkeybone performing and when Monkeybone comes over to him, Stu screams. Back in the real world, Julie sees Stu’s sister Kimmy crying over Stu’s body and accidentally lets slip that Stu was planning on proposing to her. When Stu’s doctor comes in, Kimmy wants a realistic recovery time as a pact she has with Stu makes her want to pull the plug to prevent a lingering death and the doctor tells her three months. One of Julie’s friends, Alice, drives Julie to Stu’s house and finds the setup for Stu’s proposal. While looking at all of Stu’s drawings, Alice questions how Stu went from drawing his nightmares to drawing Monkeybone and Julie tells her that she had Stu switch his drawing hand. Back in Down Town, Stu sees a grim reaper give an old man an exit pass back to the real world and Stu wonders why he didn’t get one. Stu receives an invitation to a party hosted by Hypnos, the god of sleep. While there, he sees a nightmare that Julie is having and Hypnos confirms that Stu’s sister is going to pull the plug on Stu at 9 in the morning. Hypnos tells Stu that the only way to leave is to sneak into Death’s realm and steal an exit pass. Back in the real world, Julie wakes from her nightmare and heads back to her lab at the sleep institute. She shows her coworkers Stu’s brain waves, which show that he is stuck in a nightmare loop and wants to try and increase the strength of his nightmares in an attempt to scare him awake. Back in Down Town, Stu and Monkeybone follow a reaper and manage to steal his cloak. Disguising themselves as a reaper, they sneak in to steal an exit pass but Death unmasks them and tells her Reapers to grab them. Back in the real world, Julie and Alice give Stu a shot of Oneirix, a drug she developed that can cause nightmares, to try and wake Stu up. Back in Death’s realm, Stu ends up caught in his nightmare but Monkeybone manages to save him and they escape. Arriving back at Down Town, Stu goes to thank Monkeybone but Monkeybone hits him over the head and steals the exit pass. As Monkeybone gets ready to leave, Stu tries to stop him but Hypnos has him held captive and explains that they have plans for Stu’s body and Stu is forced to watch as Monkeybone leaves. In the real world, the doctor is about to pull the plug when Monkeybone, now in Stu’s body, suddenly wakes up, causing Kimmy to faint. Julie takes Monkeybone back to Stu’s house but notices the difference in Stu, as does Stu’s dog Buster, who bites Monkeybones hand. The next day, Monkeybone has Herb start arranging for more Monkeybone merchandising but when he goes to sleep, Hypnos pays him a visit and tells him to steal the Oneirix so that he can start giving people more nightmares. Monkeybone breaks into Julie’s lab and steals the Oneirix, replacing it with grape Kool-Aid. When a toy company shows him a new farting Monkeybone doll, Monkeybone decides to replace the gas in the dolls with a mixture containing the Oneirix so that the gas will be distributed worldwide. Back in Down Town, Stu finds himself locked up with several other people such as Stephen King, Jack the Ripper, and Attila the Hun. Miss Kitty, who had taken a liking to Stu, steals the key from Hypnos and helps Stu escape. Stu goes to see Death and tells her what happened and why he stole the pass and Death has a change of heart, and mentions she is a fan of his comic, and sends Stu back to Earth. Stu wakes up inside a recently deceased gymnast whose organs were in the midst of being harvested. Stu manages to escape from the hospital and heads back to his house where he finds out about a fundraiser at the museum which Monkeybone, still in Stu’s body, is attending and after grabbing his grandmother’s wedding ring to give to Julie, he heads to the museum, with Buster following him and the organ extractors chasing him. At the museum, Herb steals one of the monkeys and gets sprayed with the gas, causing him to have a waking nightmare about his clothes attacking him so he takes them off then goes running naked through the crowd warning them about the evil clothes. Monkeybone tells the crowd not to worry about Herb and after calling attention to Julie and doing a song and dance, he proposes to her but she wonders why he is giving her a new ring instead of his grandmothers. Suddenly, Stu shows up and tells Julie not to listen to his body because it is really Monkeybone. Stu is taken away by security but Julie stops them and talks to Stu and doesn’t believe him at first. When Stu mentions the dream she had about the doctors pulling the plug and she sees Buster show up and be friendly towards Stu, she believes him and Stu gives Julie his grandmother’s ring. Heading back to the auditorium, Stu tries to stop Monkeybone but Monkeybone bursts open a pinata filled with the toy monkeys then makes his escape. Heading to the roof, Monkeybone uses a giant Monkeybone float to try and escape but Stu grabs onto one of the guide ropes and starts fighting with Monkeybone, losing various organs during the fight. As a crowd looks on, a police officer attempts to shoot the float to bring them down gently but instead, it sends them higher up in the air before the fall to their deaths. Stu and Monkeybone find themselves falling back towards Down Town but before they land, they are grabbed by a giant robot being driven by Death. Death places Monkeybone back inside Stu’s head, where she says he belongs, then sends Stu back to the real world, saying she will take “the South Park guys” instead. Julie is crying over Stu’s death when she is shocked to see Stu coming towards her and asks if it is the real Stu and Stu responds by kissing her. As they embrace and kiss, Herb is seen in the fountain, pleading with the audience to take off their clothes and a cartoon shows various people taking off their human disguises to show monkeys underneath.
Monkeybone received mostly negative reviews by the critics, holding an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Though original and full of bizarre visuals, Monkeybone is too shapeless a movie, with unengaging characters and random situations that fail to build up laughs.” Director Henry Selick was a fan of a comic book titled Dark Town and wanted to do a movie that stayed true to the source but it wound up morphing into Monkeybone. The movie was a box office bomb as it only made a little over $13 million off of a $75 million budget.
This wasn’t a terrible movie but regarding movies with live action and animation mixed together, it definitely wasn’t that good. Brendan Fraser did do a good job of playing the differing aspects of himself and I did think Whoopi Goldberg made a funny Death but everyone else just seemed kind of plain. The story was definitely interesting and showed some promise but it just seemed to fizzle out in the end and rush to it’s conclusion. The concept for Down Town and the set design looked good but the costumes and puppets could have been better. It’s not the best movie out there but it might keep you entertained for a bit.
Rating: 2 out of 5