Turkeybone (2001)

Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on March 1, 2001 @ Las Vegas CityLife.

The already flopping Monkeybone deserves its fate

The film Monkeybone is a raucous mess. Director Henry Selick mixes animation and live action to the noisy, clumsy detriment of both.

It's the strident story of cartoonist Stu Miley (Brendan Fraser) who has an accident and winds up in a coma stuck in the grotesque Land of Nightmares, hoping to return to the waking, while his comic creation Monkeybone (voice by John Turturro) goes back to earth, inhabits Stu's body and pursues his girl friend Julie (Bridget Fonda) and other earthly rewards. The horny Monkeybone romps randily after success while Stu desperately tries to get out of his nightmare loop, and back to his possessed body.

Selick directed Tim Burtons The Nightmare Before Christmas and also did James and the Giant Peach. But this time out he is more slapdash and much less effective. He has lost touch with Burtons sharpness and sense of the delightful, dark macabre.

Monkeybone has a collection of decent actors caught in a morass of thankless roles. Fraser, who usually is able to depend on his solid naturalness and naive charm, stumbles awkwardly throughout as the cartoonist with two personalities. Fonda struggles with the hapless role as the perplexed love interest. Whoopi Goldberg is minimally able to invest her own strong personality in her one-dimensional role as Death. Chris Kattan provides a few slapstick moments as the dead gymnast whose body Stu inhabits for a short time.

Most unfortunate of all is Dave Foley, Stu's cohort, whose career now has the lowlight of his running naked with a purple face through a banquet scene. Even the animated Monkeybone is simply grating.

The shrill, dull script was adapted by Sam Hamm, based on the graphic novel Dark Town, with such piquant lines of dialogue as "You're giving me stinkeye." Like its title character, the entire film is blatant and obnoxious.

© 2000-2020 Tony Macklin