Offensive Comic Nightmares
Release Date: February 23, 2001
Audience: Teenagers & teenagers
Runtime: 86 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: Henry Selick
Producer: Michael Barnathan & Mark Radcliffe
Writer: Sam Hamm
Address Comments To:Tom Rothman & Jim Gianopulos, Chairmen
Fox Filmed Entertainment
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
A division of Fox, Inc. & News Corp.
10201 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone: (310) 369-1000
In MONKEYBONE, Stu Miley (Brendan Fraser) is at the top of his game. He has created a cartoon character, Monkeybone, that has exploded into a phenomenon and is about to become a national television show. Stu has also found the woman of his dreams, Julie (Bridget Fonda). The sweet and loyal doctor helped Stu overcome his terrible nightmares and turn his fears into creativity . . . and thus, Monkeybone was created.
On the night that Stu plans to ask Julie to marry him, the two are in a car accident, sending him into a comatose state. Stu sinks into the world known as “Downtown,” a creepy, dark waiting room between the living and the dead. The only way out is to be given an exit pass from Death herself. As Julie patiently and consistently waits for Stu to awaken from his coma, his cold-hearted sister, Kim, lurks in the wings for the soonest opportunity to pull the plug on his life support.
While a resident of “Downtown,” Stu comes across a number of frightening neighbors, including his own creation, Monkeybone (voiced by John Turturro). His “alter-ego” in the form of a cartoon monkey is rude, annoying and soon drives Stu to take desperate measures to escape back into the living world.
His plan to steal an exit pass from Death (Whoopi Goldberg) goes awry when Monkeybone steals it and takes over Stu’s body, an occult motif. The new, evil Stu begins his plan to provide “Downtown” with an unlimited amount of nightmares, and at the same time commercialize Monkeybone products as much as possible. Stu must find a way out of Downtown by appealing to Death and make his way back to his regular life, saving the world from nightmares before his time runs out.
When Stu makes his plea to Death, she is unusually sympathetic to his case, allowing him to return to the real world in another form. Chris Kattan delivers a hysterical performance as Stu’s new body, a dead gymnast and organ donor. Stu has one chance to capture Monkeybone and see Julie one more time.
MONKEYBONE, filled with sexual references made by the cartoon character Monkeybone, is nightmarishly dark and strange. Sadly, the entire character of Monkeybone not only is a nickname and reference to Stu Miley’s alter ego, or “shadow” in Jungian terms, it also is a crude reference to Stu’s sexual arousal.
Fraser, Fonda and Kattan all provide this movie with talented and, at times, hilarious performances. The creativity they express is often phenomenal, but overly frightening. Although MONKEYBONE gives some very well-known names a chance to express their creative acting abilities, the movie loses credibility with the plot and the seriousness applied to that plot by the filmmakers. MONKEYBONE’s sexual references, pagan worldview, occult motifs, and dark, demonic fantasy world make it unsuitable for family audiences, even the teenagers and young adults which are its prime marketing target. The movie also fails to contain any really solid positive values or moral elements which might help redeem it, if only a little bit.
MONKEYBONE is much like director Henry Selick’s other movies, NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH. While brimming with creativity from stars like Brendan Fraser, Bridget Fonda and Chris Kattan of TV’s SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, this movie contains crude sexual references, a pagan worldview, demonic occult elements, and creepy characters. Since these things are put together in one package, without much positive content, MONKEYBONE is unsuitable for family audiences, even the teenagers and young adults who are its prime target