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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Space Chimps (review)

If jokes about missing links and “the primate directive” are your idea of the height of wit… If monkeys in space suits but with bare hands and feet are your idea of the height of science fiction… If you haven’t gotten enough this year of terrible comedies ripping off jokes from the 30-year-old Airplane! (see also: The Love Guru)… then have I got a movie for you. (Oh, and never fear: this CGI kiddie horror show also includes the apparently requisite inappropriate sexual innuendo, too.) Three chimps — two museum exhibits meant to illustrate NASA’s glory days and one comic-relief sidekick — get shot through a wormhole, chasing after a missing deep-space probe that has landed on an alien world. Things could be worse, though, for the nice little aliens upon which the probe wreaks havoc: it could have been carrying a copy of this movie. It starts out merely a misbegotten mess, a churning cesspit of stupid puns, sight gags, and decades-out-of-date pop culture references, plus this: That sidekick character? He’s a circus chimp called Ham III, and if a chimp could be an asshole, he’d be it. (He’s voiced by Andy Samberg [Hot Rod]… coincidence?) And then it all turns terrifying, mostly thanks to an alien creature with a tiny baby’s body and a huge glowing head that screams constantly (the voice of Kristin Chenoweth [Running with Scissors], which usually is just fine): the thing is creepy and bizarre, and what’s worse, it’s meant to be cute and adorable. Fuck, I’m still having nightmares about it. And no, even Patrick Warburton (Get Smart), as the voice of one of the NASA chimps, is not enough to make this endurable. How I long for the depth of character and theme of “Pigs in Space.”

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watch at home

MPAA: rated G

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb

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