Monkeybone

Forget COOL WORLD: This adaptation of the graphic novel Dark Town is a fairly serious psychodrama rendered in cartoon images. That's fundamentally a juvenile idea, and childish gags about farts and naughty parts further undermine the film for adults. But it's wildly visually inventive, and has a surprising edge. Success is about to anoint morose, nightmare-plagued...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Forget COOL WORLD: This adaptation of the graphic novel Dark Town is a fairly serious psychodrama rendered in cartoon images. That's fundamentally a juvenile idea, and childish gags about farts and naughty parts further undermine the film for adults. But it's wildly visually inventive, and has a surprising edge. Success is about to anoint morose, nightmare-plagued cartoonist Stu Miley (Brendan Fraser): His Monkeybone (voiced by John Turturro), a lewd, crude, rude shot of pure id in the form of a mouthy monkey, has just been bought for TV, and Stu's about to propose to his fabulous girlfriend, Julie (Bridget Fonda). Then comes the car crash, followed by the coma. But while Stu appears to be sleeping quietly (albeit tethered to tubes), his brain is racing. Stu's consciousness is trapped in a bizarre limbo of his own imagining called Downtown, where his psychological baggage is waiting at the gate. Literally. In suitcases. Stu, who as a child was apparently frightened by everything from Picasso paintings and Ray Harryhausen movies to The Outer Limits and Joe Camel, is surrounded by his fellow coma victims (there are only two ways out, and one definitely beats the other) and creatures culled from his nightmares — including his obstreperous alter ego, Monkeybone. In the real world, Stu's sister (Megan Mullaly) is about to pull the plug, so Stu makes a last ditch effort to return to his body. He's foiled by the irrepressible Monkeybone, who's tired of being a figment of someone else's imagination and starts living Stu's life in most Un-Stu-like ways. The movie seems caught betwixt and between: The underlying subject matter is mature and Downtown is a satisfying tormented realm, but the real-world sequences seem designed to smooth over the heavy stuff with adolescent sight gags. Still, Fraser seems to be having great fun playing a horny monkey in Hollywood hustler's clothes, and even when you hide Rose McGowan or Giancarlo Esposito under layers of freaky make up, you can tell someone's actually acting under there.

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  • Released: 2001
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Forget COOL WORLD: This adaptation of the graphic novel Dark Town is a fairly serious psychodrama rendered in cartoon images. That's fundamentally a juvenile idea, and childish gags about farts and naughty parts further undermine the film for adults. But i… (more)

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