Funky Monkey (2004)
Funky Monkey a champ among chimps
Over the past several decades that I have spent reviewing films, I have seen thousands of gems that I have declared “the greatest film of all-time.” Some have accused me of hyperbole. Some have accused me of exaggeration.
This week however is different, for I can offer up a 100 per cent guarantee that the film I will be examining is without a doubt the greatest work of art ever committed to celluloid. Ladies and gentleman, may I present Funky Monkey. I just know you’ll go ape…or at least chimp over this movie.
Funky Monkey weaves a sordid tale of a highly intelligent chimpanzee that is being trained by an evil organization to be a soldier. I know what you are thinking – I see enough about war on the news, I don’t need to see another depressing movie about military in a post 9/11 world. Well don’t worry, because this movie offers up plenty of lighthearted moments.
The chimp in question goes by the name Clemens, and not only is he super intelligent, he’s also super entertaining. You can tell this because he is often seen wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Unfortunately, Clemens is being treated badly by his owners, an evil corporation known as Zoology International Technology, or simply Z.I.T.
Luckily, the man who trained Clemens grew quite fond of him and decides to assist Clemens in becoming a monkey on the lam. Alex McCall (Matthew Modine), a former star football player and CIA martial arts instructor, steals Clemens and decides to hide out in his hometown while fending off a Z.I.T. attack.
McCall and Clemens meet up with a young boy named Michael, whose dream is to play on his high school’s football team so he can impress a girl. The relationship between Clemens and Michael becomes so solid that a musical montage is needed to show how strong their bond has become. You’ll be in stitches watching things like forgetting to put the top back on before turning on a blender, and re-enacting the famous dancing scene from Risky Business.
In the end, Clemens does not find himself a soldier on the battlefield, but rather as a soldier on the football field. Clemens and Michael take on the upper echelon of Z.I.T. in the wackiest pigskin battle since the Saskatchewan Roughriders squared off against the Ottawa Rough Riders.
Every year countless chimpanzee films are released – far more of them than you ever thought possible. Why you may ask? It’s not for monetary reasons. Oh sure, the last 65 chimp movies have grossed a combined $1.6 million at the worldwide box office. That number may seem minuscule when compared to the success of recent films like Spider Man 3, Transformers and Daddy Day Camp. However, that’s more money than most people will ever make in their lives, and all they had to do was make 65 movies!
It’s not money, however, that is the driving force behind the release of a film like this. A film like Funky Monkey gets made because a director and a group of producers, actors, writers, caterers and stunt chimps really believed in the project.
It’s why they were able to get Roma Downey, the former star of the popular television series “Touched by an Angel” to join the cast as Michael’s mother. Downey is married to super rich television producer Mark Burnett (“Survivor”, “The Apprentice”), so she’s not desperate for money. They could probably afford their own army of chimpanzees, or a really nice house – whichever they prefer really.
It’s also why they were able to get legendary comedian Gilbert Gottfried to make a cameo. He’s very discriminating when he comes to picking his roles, as is evidenced by his resume which includes the talking horse film Hot To Trot, the talking baby film Look Who’s Talking Too, not to mention an appearance in Saved By The Bell: Wedding In Las Vegas.
Jeffrey Tambor, best known as George Sr. from that terrible show “Arrested Development”, is also featured as McCall’s old football coach. It’s nice to see how well he can perform with the right material.
I almost feel sad after seeing Funky Monkey. I’m not sure if I will ever view another picture that measures up. It could all be downhill from here. Movie making was perfected back in 2004 with the completion of Funky Monkey. Everyone can stop trying now.