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Monster in a Box: The Movie

21 customer reviews

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Monster in a Box: The Movie + Swimming To Cambodia + Gray's Anatomy (Criterion Collection)
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Editorial Reviews

Legendary monologuist Spalding Gray takes you on an unforgettable and often hilarious journey through the pitfalls of the creative mind in this brilliant follow-up to his critical and audience favorite, Swimming to Cambodia. Interacting with his audience and backed by a score from Laurie Anderson, Gray recounts the story of his attempts to write a manuscript and the bizarre tangents his everyday life and creative persona underwent in the process.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Spalding Gray
  • Directors: Nick Broomfield
  • Writers: Spalding Gray
  • Producers: Jon Blair, Norman I. Cohen, Renée Shafransky
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 28, 2006
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000I2J72C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,858 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Monster in a Box: The Movie" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Greg Cleary on April 15, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
There was nobody else like Spalding Gray. If you're curious about his work (and you should be), you should start by watching either "Swimming to Cambodia" or this film. They are worth owning, because you will probably want to watch them again and again and show them to your friends. "Monster in a Box" is my favorite. Watching it again recently, I realized that Gray could've been one of the greatest comedians of all time, and he certainly would've earned more money and fame as a comedian, yet it would've been a waste of his talents. He had too much to say about life to confine himself like that. And so he used that rarest of art forms, the autobiographical monologue.

"Monster in a Box" is about a lot of things. It's about the difficulty of writing a long work of prose. (The "Monster" in the title is the manuscript for a book he was working on, which I have read, by the way. The finished work is very good, although not as long as the manuscript.) It's about the film industry. It's about a fact-finding mission to Nicaraugua in the 80s. It's about Gray's fears about his own physical and mental health. It's about a trip to Russia for screenings of "Swimming to Cambodia." It's about Gray's role in a Broadway production of "Our Town." And much more.

But a summary of the content does not capture what this monologue is really about. Gray was an intense person who was trying his best to be true to his nature without being completely miserable. I saw him perform "It's a Slippery Slope" in Eugene, Oregon, in 1995 or' 96, and he was fantastic. He walked out onto the stage, sat down at a table with a glass of water, and talked for about 90 minutes. The audience was riveted. I wish a film version of that monologue was available.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 21, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Monster in a Box is another film version of one of Spaulding Gray's monologues, taped live at the Performing Garage, the home of The Wooster Group in New York City. The film captures the feel of the live performance and heightens it with music and close-ups. The "monster" in the box is an autobiography that Mr. Gray has been trying to work on concerning the death of his mother. The monologue details the obstacles, blocks, and epiphinal moments in trying to pen his tome. The monologue also contains many anecdotes about what happened to his life after the success of his first movie, Swimming to Cambodia. It also covers his adventures in Hollywood and his mixed emotions about being the Stage Manager in Thorton Wilder's Our Town at Lincoln Center. Gray is a story teller of rare talent. He's able to probe so far into the complexity of his own life that an audience feels compelled and, ultimately, empathetic. If you enjoyed Swimming to Cambodia or just a good story, Monster in a Box is a great film to see.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Hardinger on January 9, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
What a relief. Somebody intelligent on film. No explosions, no car chases. And I was spellbound from start to finish, and laughed so hard I thought my bad eye would pop out. Highly recommended as an antidote to Pokemon and South Park.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 14, 2002
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Only this guy can do this stuff. It's got hints of performance art but essentially he's just an old fashioned story teller telling modern, intelligent and very funny stories.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Smith on July 20, 2006
Format: VHS Tape
I recently viewed this movie on IFC (cable). It was the next show after one I'd just finished watching, and if I'd know before hand that the whole thing was a monologue, I probably would never have watched. From the first minute of the performance, I was glued to my seat. Unlike myself, if you're purchasing the movie, you'll have the "pause" option on your remote if you need to break, but you'll never want to use it. There will be at least one of his stories that everyone has experienced at one time or another, and can relate and laugh hysterically. Through the whole performance, right up to the end, you want more. The only disappointment is that it had to end. Very highly recommend to anyone with an intelligent sense of humor.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sammy on January 29, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
This film seems to mean so much more now that poor Spaulding is either dead or... he certainly is missing. The seamless transitions are classic in this 90 minute trail through the incredible mind of Mr. Gray. His HBO excursions, Stage Manager of 'Our Town,' going with his confidante Renee on the fact finding mission to Nicaragua while trying so hard not to let anyone know that he is a spy, but not for the CIA!! Do I have AIDS? etc. This is the ultimate monologue. You'll love his New England demeanor.
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Format: DVD
this film could have been SG's suicide note but years in advance of his jumping off the staten island ferry in winter to his death in 2004. most viewers think the monster in the box is the book he was writing of the same name. he lets you go down that route if you wish. however, there is another box, the one containing his mother's ashes which is still in his father's bedroom. that box beckons him to enter it as well. time goes on and finally he too enters the box, no longer able to handle the demons of his own life. he gives us intimations of this beckoning box throughout the film, such as when he tells us how his mother simply asked him one day, "how shall i do it?" also, the many times he tried to leave his mother, packing up his car, driving away, only to drive back, unpack the car and rejoin her. the car, the mother's house and his luggage all being more boxes to the very dark box of suicide and death. i think of this film more as a complementary piece to william styron's classic DARKNESS VISIBLE than as a meditation about the difficulty of writing a book.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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