Funky Monkey

Rogue Reviewers Roundtable Review: April ‘06 – Spank the Monkey 


Funky Monkey is the only movie in my collection to feature any type of simian, be it chimpanzee, gorilla, or otherwise. Therefore, somewhat by circumstance, it is also the worst movie in my collection to feature a simian. As I write this review the movie is playing in my DVD player, and to be totally honest, I might as well be listening to white noise at this point. The sound of ocean surf or wind through trees would actually be more entertaining, as this has got to be one of the most tedious “family” films I have forced myself to watch in quite some time.

A quick note before I go into my sigh-heavy rant: Funky Monkey was released in 2004, and so it should not be confused as the predecessor to Funky Monkey 2, which according to the Internet Movie Database was released in 1992. The latter title was also not about a monkey but rather rival high schools competing in a dance contest. So, please, when you’re doing exhaustive research on these films in the future, don’t assume they’re a franchise. You’d look ridiculous. Well, with that done, I suppose we should move on to the…sigh…review.

Do you like movies where animals meet young children, befriend them, and then teach them lessons about friendship and self-esteem through their amazing, human-like skills? You know, like when a dog plays basketball, or…soccer, or…idiotically enough, baseball? Well, this is kind of like those movies, only somehow a lot lamer. This one has a positively adorable secret agent chimpanzee who escapes an evil science lab named ZIT (Zoology International Technology…please laugh at the screenwriter’s joke). The monkey’s name is Clemens, by the way. Do you care? Well, if you do, his name is Clemens.

So yeah, he escapes ZIT with his handler, a toe-headed dope played by Matthew Modine, they meet a stupid kid with a stupid bowl cut stupidly named Michael, and…the next ninety minutes somehow move past my eyeballs. Yeah. Uh, what else…oh, there’s a couple of bumbling villains in the style of Home Alone who, unsurprisingly, find themselves getting humiliated in various situations. We also get to watch a lot of fight sequences where terrible editing tries to make us believe a chimp can drop kick a grown man, and Lord knows that’s a worthy goal.

Oh, and in case you’re not vomiting yet, there’s a scene where the monkey and his preteen protégé bond over a delightful water gun fight. Vomiting yet? Okay, then take this into consideration: There’s a song playing over this sequence which includes the lyric, “I finally found my best friend.” Come on, there has to be something rising to the surface. If not, then you obviously have a higher level of sugar intake than yours truly. Do us all a favor and dunk your head in molasses.

To make matters worse, this thing actually features a few actors who are known for their talent and credibility, including Jeffrey Tambor of Arrested Development fame and comedian Gilbert Gottfried, who…well, isn’t really known for anything these days now, is he? Even toe-headed dope Matthew Modine has kept up a career, recently playing Jesus in the 2005 release Mary. Here the poor guy actually has to deliver lines like, “There’s no rule a chimp can’t play football!” Oh, right, he plays football, too. Can’t forget that wonderful section.

Funky Monkey was originally bought by a friend as my Christmas present, the reason being based solely on the cover’s novelty value. Sadly, the cover, as well as that darn catchy title, is about three thousand times more interesting and fun, and such a fact makes me very sad indeed. Very. Sad. Oh well, I guess I’ve learned not to pursue the family genre, as it seems to be a complete wasteland where children are pandered to and parents are made to feel physical pain all for the sake of entertainment. To Funky Monkey, I say this: Make like a banana and split.

Was that clever? No, no it wasn’t. Uh…well. Sorry.

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