Main cast: Brendan Fraser (Stu Miley), John Turturro (Monkeybone), Bridget Fonda (Julie McElroy), Dave Foley (Herb), Giancarlo Esposito (Hypnos), Rose McGowan (Kitty), Whoopi Goldberg (Death), and Chris Kattan (Organ Donor)
Director: Henry Selick
Don’t pop this movie into your player expecting wholesome entertainment for your kids, unless your idea of wholesomeness is five minutes worth of erection jokes. Or you want your kids to learn many nice monkey-related euphemisms for what boys do behind the closed toilet door with a copy of Playboy in one hand. If I am to expect intelligent dark humor, I will be disappointed too. But Monkeybone is still a fun movie.
Stu Miley is a comic artist whose creation, a foul-mouthed monkey called (what else?) Monkeybone, is about to make him a big time celebrity. But the man, who is still recovering from a lifetime of bad dreams, just wants to be left alone to propose marriage to his sweetheart (and his shrink) Julie. But a car crash soon lands him in a coma, where he finds himself in Downtown, a product of imagination. And he comes face to face with… Monkeybone!
When Monkeybone trades places with the real Stu to wreck havoc on the real world, Stu has to find a way to get back to the real world, reclaim his body and his life, and marry Julie. But how on earth can he do that when he’s trapped in his own mind?
There are hints – hints – of a great dark, adult fairy tale story here. I find the idea of a man plagued by nightmares all his life very intriguing and romantic in a Gothic manner, but this movie unfortunately has Stu playing the nice guy with little genuine angst on his part. “Excuse me while I go choke my monkey!” is his best line though, and Brendan Fraser’s sense of comedy seems more and more impeccable with each movie he’s in. I also love Downtown, filled with deliciously wicked creatures like Hypnos, god of sleep, and Death, the long-suffering-from-overwork bureaucratic kook who looks just like Whoopi Goldberg. And there’s the unfortunately severely underwritten Kitty, who would kill for Stu, even if the scriptwriter Sam Hamm (no jokes about this poor man’s name, please) forgot to tell me why she would.
Monkeybone could have been grand, it could have been dark and good. Still, despite its reliance on cheap gags of decomposing bodies and masturbation jokes, it remains watchable and funny, thanks to the cast who has the comedy timing down pat.