By the time 2001 rolled around, combining live action and animation wasn't new, unique, and groundbreaking anymore. However, having a film accomplish it successfully and become a hit isn't done very often. "Monkeybone" tried to change that. Keyword being "tried". Like some ventures before, it failed miserably becoming a certified box office bomb. Only making back about 10% of its overall budget. That does not mean it was a bad movie. Everyone loves at least one box office flop that failed to find its core audience. Maybe it missed the mark with some people. Maybe some people just didn't get it. We will explore some points here and you can chime in below and let us know where you land with this underground treasure.
Brendan Fraser stars as Stu Miley, comic creator on the verge of a big time deal turning his creation, Monkeybone, into an animated series. Leaving a promotional meeting, where people are throwing licensing products at him to sign off on, he gets into a car accident and ends up in a coma. (Sidenote: More on this later. I have issues with this scene the way it is in the final cut of the movie.) His subconscious ends up in Down Town, a dreamlike place that that also inhabits other peoples creations and figments of their imagination. Stu ends up stuck here while Monkeybone escapes to the real world and take over Stu's body. Yeah, I can tell I am losing you here. Sounds a bit corny but we can't have everything so serious all the time. I never said this was an Oscar winner.
The movie is directed by Henry Selick ("Nightmare Before Christmas", "Coraline", "James and the Giant Peach"). Also starring Bridget Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Rose McGowan, Megan Mullally, Giancarlo Esposito, and Chris Kattan in a bit more than a cameo. More like only the last 10-15 minutes but the performance is spot on, practically stealing the show and well worth the time spent watching it. The names behind this film are enough to attract the attention of an audience but something along the way just didn't connect. The story? The marketing/promotion? Maybe just the timing and genre? Dark humor and fantasy looking for the correct niche to carve its way into pop culture. It just never found its way.
Whenever I bring it up to anybody, I always get a confused look staring back at me. If it was released today, they'd have Funko Pops and everything to give it a promotional push. Even though I loved this movie for its quirkiness, while watching the DVD I was left puzzled by some things until I watched the deleted scenes.
WTF were they thinking? They trimmed it to a slim 92 minutes. I guess that's about average length for this type of movie and wanted to stream along the plot but some of those cuts made the plot pay the price. There is a reason studios have a person in charge on continuity on the set. They are cutting vital info in exchange for time and leaving the audience scratching their heads.
For instance, the car accident that send Stu to Down Town in his coma wasn't even supposed to be what sends him there in the first place. He was in the car with his girlfriend when he ran into a pole and somehow its just him in the coma. Yeah its possible but the rest of the cut scene shows him getting out the car unscathed for the most part, and going over to a pay phone (remember-- 2001, before everyone had cell phones) where the pole he hit falls on him. That's how he was supposed to be in a coma.
More continuity errors with Death's assistant because of a cut scene where he get pea soup on him from picking up a body. But we don't see that so he just appears with this stain and we have no idea how or why. Adding all the deleted scenes back in would have only been an extra 11 minutes to the length. Little things like this tend to irritate the hell out of me. It really wouldn't add that much to length to movie when these are key details but they end up getting cut. I would really like Shout Factory to pick this up for a Special Edition blu ray release. Is anyone at Shout listening to me here? Please? I know its longshot but I can hope. Its so hard to even find on DVD now. They are out of print and never had a blu ray release in the US. Someone has to give it a little more press. That's why I'm here. End rant. Roll the trailer.
Dave Christy loves horror, music, documentaries and more. He is also the co-runner of several fan based groups including Morningstars (THE Lucifer fan group also run by Melanie), and now is a member of the VIPers Spotlight Lounge team for Melanie's Muses. Other than "In The Spotlight" Features -check out his "31 Days Of Halloween Movies"
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