THE FIFTH MONKEY belongs in a barrel. Ben Kingsley plays Cunda, a snake catcher in the Brazilian rain forest who needs to make enough money to get the village widow to marry him.
As if in answer to his prayers, four chimpanzees come into his dreams, then into his life when they adopt him one day in the bush. The chimps follow Cunda all day, doing all sorts of cute things. These chimps are uncannily smart, maybe even magical, yet Cunda accepts this without comment. The inexplicable bond formed between man and monkeys is the first of many flaws in the film. Another is that chimpanzees are not native to this bush, but Africa or South America… what’s the difference?
Cunda travels to the big city to sell the chimps. Along the way he meets a beautiful “good” Indian girl, who stands in contrast to the greedy widow he’s planning to marry. There are many other folks in the film who also are not nice: stingy storekeepers, big-city con artists and men who kidnap tribal Indians.
At any rate, Cunda meets a rich lady who lives in her own private zoo. She wants the chimpanzees and tries to seduce Cunda, but Cunda and the chimps run away…
What’s more fun than a barrel full of monkeys? Not this movie. Ben Kingsley, one of the best actors around, does little more than walk through his weak lines, talking in simple sentences, sometimes only in phrases. Too bad the monkeys weren’t given the dialogue because THE FIFTH MONKEY has got nothing to say.
Nor does reality ever enter the picture, in any shape or form. All the characters are one dimensional, the action is totally unrelated and believability was obviously deemed a non-factor. Moreover, there’s nudity, implied promiscuity, killing, stealing, and drunkenness.
Female frontal nudity, brief male nudity, promiscuity, murder, theft, and drunkenness