Top positive review
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A mess of a film, yes...But also brilliant...
on July 13, 2001
"Monkeybone" is the type of experimental, twisted movie that is destined to become a cult classic. Mixing shades of Tim Burton's "Beetlejuice" with an enormous variety of influences such as "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," "All of Me," "Alice in Wonderland," and even "Regarding Henry," this movie is a stop-motion cartoon, a live-action love story, a dark comedy, a fantasy, a Freudian nightmare, and more. It contains an extremely diverse and unusual cast, including Brendan Fraser as a cartoonist in a coma, Bridget Fonda as his fiancee, Whoopi Goldberg as Death (yes, you read that right), Chris Kattan as the decomposing corpse of a gymnast, Megan Mullally as the cartoonist's sister who is very eager to pull the plug, Dave Foley as the cartoonist's manager, and Rose McGowan as a kitty cat (yes, once again, you read that right)! It also contains bizzare, strange, and cool animation by director Henry Selick, who also directed Tim Burton's "Nightmare Before Christmas."
Ostensibly, "Monkeybone" is the story about an artist's struggle between artistic integrity and cartoonish commercialism, about the difference between a work of art and a mere doodle, a satire about the consequences of "selling out." It is also a Freudian fairy tale about a man whose sexual id is represented by a cartoon monkey. Monkeybone is literally this man's erection. The story is an examination of what happens when one lets one's id take over his whole life. It is a psychological analysis of what nightmares are made of. It is a surrealistic comedy containing some of the most startling, visually stunning images you are likely to see on film for a long time, including strange representations of many classical, mythological creatures. It is a love story. While this might sound like the premise of an independant film, this is actually a big budget film that was marketed to look like a children's movie. Not a good idea.
It's no wonder this movie did so poorly at the box office. Believe it or not, this film is the type that should have been playing at small art houses, not mainstream movie theatres. Even the cover box says it's the crudest movie since "South Park." In short, the studio didn't know how to market its own movie.
This movie is an extremely likable one, hilariously funny at times, always seriously bizarre, and obviously the work of a demented genius. It is hard to deny the brilliant artistry involved, and the all-around great acting by the cast. In fact, I respect every actor in this film immensely, especially the big budget ones such as Whoopi Goldberg and Brendan Fraser. This is the type of weird movie they didn't have to do, but chose to do. It is a project they wanted to be involved in, and I respect them for that.
Typically, most of the reviewers, mostly in the middle of the country, panned this film. However, many major newspapers and publications, such as "The New York Times," and "Entertainment Weekly" gave it great reviews, despite its messy nature.
And this is one of the few movies in recent history in which its mess actually adds to its likability. A more polished version of this film would be not be half as enjoyable, brilliant, crazy, or maddening as this truly original, insane piece of filmmaking. As it is now, the viewer constantly wonders what strange happening will occur next, and, trust me, it is always stranger than you thought it would be.
I would not recommend this film to everyone. I would probably recommend it mostly to serious movie buffs or lovers of very original, non-mainstream film, who enjoy Tim Burton/Sam Raimiesque humor in their cinema. If you're in the most for something completely and utterly different in every way, buy this movie.