I hate MONKEYBONE.
I hate the film in a profoundly upsetting way. It is the film I dislike most this year, the film I’m angriest at. Is it worse than HEAD OVER HEELS or VALENTINE? Well, here’s the thing… Did either of those films ever even have the chance to be anything better than forgettable? I don’t think so. I think straight out of the gate… the second the script was approved their fate was sealed into the 9th level of Hell.
What makes MONKEYBONE unbearable is the sheer enormity of talent wasted on this non-working whoopee cushion. This broken joy-buzzer. This dribbling water-spouting flower. It is that cheap broken gag you buy from the back of BOY’S LIFE… that half assed attempt at something wonderful.
How responsible are Henry Selick, Sam Hamm and Chris Columbus?
Well, Sam wrote a great initial script with Henry. A dark surreal adult humored story that was basically a descent into a stunningly imaginative world. The internal logic of that first script was rock solid. Intelligent through and through. Calling for possibly the greatest works of stop-motion animation we’d ever see. It wasn’t hokey and stupid and cheap and dumb. It wasn’t loud and noisy and annoying and bad. It wasn’t this movie. It was grand and noble and fun and like nothing any of us had seen before. It wasn’t COOL WORLD, it was the film that COOL WORLD dreamed to be.
Henry Selick helped create that world, he was going to envision it with the greatest team of Stop-Motion animators around. Gigantic Stop-Motion production numbers with a visual inventiveness far larger in scope than anything in NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS.
Chris Columbus recognized the talent of having Henry Selick and Sam Hamm’s partnership in place. Knew what the script could have been.
Step in Fox Animation and Fox with their cowardly non-committal chickenshit film production post-TITANIC limp-dick policy of non-filmmaker support.
Budget draft after budget draft…. Make it cheaper and cheaper and cheaper. Rubber suits, as little animation as possible… beef up the physical comedy… add more fart jokes and base humor. Rip out the amazing paperdoll world of Death. Gone the human shrinking flattening paperdoll converter device. Let’s take as much of the fantastic as possible out of MONKEYBONE.
Monkeybone was from the beginning an expensive project… from the beginning it was an odd experimental film. But by taking away so much of the tools and paints and money to make the film… all they are left with is a limp film aimed directly at the urinal.
So again, how responsible are Chris Columbus, Henry Selick and Sam Hamm… the three primary producers and creative head honchos of this disaster?
As soon as the cuts began, they should have left. Soon as they realized that the story could not be told in the only way it could be told… they should have left. By cutting all that they did, they had to realize how unbalanced the film had become… how disjointed it would end up.
I’m friends with Sam Hamm. Sammy is a great guy and his scripts have constantly been the victim of BUDGET DRAFTS. Sam dreams big. Has enormous canvases in his brain he tries to put to paper then to screen. But this would’ve been better next to the unproduced Brilliant draft of WATCHMEN than becoming the piece of shit waste of time that it has become.
All the different mix of techniques for bringing the various characters to life… well, all it did was call gross attention to technique as opposed to story-telling. The sculpting of the costume work was exemplary… but they moved like crap. The stop-motion (what there is) was quite nice, but at the end of the day… it just felt out of place. The CGI work seemed even more cartoony than I’ve seen before.
As many techniques for bringing the creatures to life… there were an even wider scope of performances… nearly all terrible beyond belief. Only Chris Kattan comes out of this film with any amount of nobility but that’s because his character is mainly motion and physicality and not talking… and when he does deliver lines it’s with a soft spoken sincerity that really works… EXCEPT in his scene to me, where he goes over the top and that scene should have been cut because it didn’t flow with the rest of the movie.
What makes this film so painful is that though you see designs and sets that your eye is eye-balling… there is just nothing more than passing interest. Nothing really ever happens here.
In fact you can analyze the entire problem with the film by my cameo.
Originally my character was to appear twice. Once while Brendan’s Stu Miley gassed his Dog and the second time when Kattan enters the house. In the first scene I was to be wearing a shirt labeled "LUCKY" and in the second scene I was wearing a shirt labeled "STIFF"
Well they cut out LUCKY and left STIFF. That’s systematic of the entire film. Stiff doesn’t belong with out Lucky. Death does not belong without the set up of what the definition and world of death in the afterlife is. How do we buy the Bridget Fonda & Brendan relationship if we never see it working at the beginning… when there is no establishment of their life together. Well it was cut out. In both cases.
Monkeybone is part of a plan to provide nightmares to the land of monsters, but we never get to enter one of the movie theaters in Downtown where we see why they need nightmares.
The film was butchered by folks that believe you make cutlets by kung fu chops… instead we just get dented meat.
This film is a complete and total failure. The only real interest is to watch it as a study in how a film can go so wrong. The same way I watch SOLDIER (another film I hate) Where you realize that just because you have a great script and the perfect actor… it can go terribly wrong… Well, here… not only did they have the perfect script, the perfect star and the perfect director… but they had the right design teams and art directors… they just had a studio constipated by Rupert Murdoch’s fear that TITANIC could have been a bomb.
It’s time to wake up and realize when producing fantasy film and movies bigger than life that you have to follow through. All the way through. You don’t micro-manage someone like Henry Selick… you give him every single tool that he needs. You don’t butcher a script that is dead on right. You find a director that can bring it to life and stand behind the project without kicking it to serve your own idiotic self-interests.
I HATE THIS MOVIE. I hate that Henry Selick’s filmography reads NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH…. And then this… This film should not be in that list. He should have run away. Bailed at the first sign of studio interference.
Oh… I haven’t mentioned this yet, but Brendan Fraser… He delivers by far his worst performance I’ve seen to day. Hamming and overacting every moment of the film.
Waste of time. Complete waste of time. One of the biggest film disappointments of my life. Not a film worthy of the talent that made it.