It took me far too long to get round to watching this film because I was scared of hating it, however my feelings towards Monkeybone once and for all proves that I am the ultimate Henry Selick fan…and proud of it. With no shame I will announce that I absolutely adore this film and truly think it is of the same level as most of Selick’s films in terms of greatness.
Monkeybone is about a cartoonist (Stu) who, after being in a car accident, ends up in a coma. Whilst in this coma Stu finds himself in a sort of purgatory filled with all the characters from his drawings and imagination…including Monkeybone – his incredibly popular cartoon monkey. To get out of this purgatory he has to get an “exit pass” from Death’s (Whoopie Goldberg) office. Him and Monkeybone hatch and carry out a plan to do so and succeed, however Monkeybone steals it and ends up in the body of Stu whilst Stu is still stuck in his purgatory-esque nightmare. Stu tries again to steal an exit pass, but is caught and has to convince Death to let him go to earth for an hour…which he does and finds out what Monkeybone has been doing. Upon his return to purgatory Stu manages to drag down Monkeybone and death sends him back to his old life. PHEW. Did you keep up?
This film is made up of the humour you can find in films such as Beetlejuice or Any Jim Carrey film, but brilliantly and believably presented by Brendan Fraser in one of his best roles. Mix that with the dark vision of director Henry Selick and you have a hit with this reviewer. Selick is known for his stop-motion and as always the animation was fantastic in this film, not quite Coraline level, but this is an incredibly different project.
As above mentioned, this film felt very much like Beetlejuice – the Tim Burton film – and although I prefer Beetlejuice I still think this is worth a good watch. Burton and Selick’s work is often confused, I can’t begin to tell you how many people think Burton directed The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline. They do have very similar styles of directing which is a style I apparently connect to.
Performances in Monkeybone are absolutely fantastic and fitting to the tone with a fantastic leading man (Brendan Fraser) and some great supporting roles starring Whoopi Goldberg, Rose Mcgowan and Chris Kattan to name a select few. Although this may be unpopular opinion I genuinely enjoyed every performance and do not think there was a bad actor in the bunch.
This film should have done a lot better than it did, but for some reason people just hated it. Personally I have no idea why, but I guess people can’t see in to the mind of Henry Selick the way that I can. There is something about outcasts, imaginative creatures and weirdos that is oddly calming to me which is very likely the reason I love the film as much as I do.
To give some criticisms I would say that there should have been more of a reason for Stu to be sent back to earth than the fact that Death likes his cartoons, I feel like he should have done something really noble to be worthy of the right. I also think that the medics, instead of running after the organ donor who came back to life should have been freaking out about the fact there is a live corpse running around…in fact they should have had a reaction altogether because they just jump to “Those are our organs” instead of”DEAD MAN COMES BACK TO LIFE WITH MISSING ORGANS” although it does add to comic affect later on.
In conclusion I think this film is fantastic, although not as good as Coraline and I personally don’t understand why it didn’t do very well. Despite having criticisms I still recommend the film.
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