Brendan Fraser is no stranger to monkeys. Whether he is acting with them, or as them, Fraser is without a doubt the monkey master of Hollywood. So of course, he is a natural for Monkeybone, a story about a cartoonist who enters a coma, only to have his body possessed by his own creation, a cartoon monkey named Monkeybone.
Directed by Henry Selick the master of stop animation, Monkeybone strives to follow in this directors grand tradition of fine film making, but will likely only be remembered as a gruesome stain on the career of an otherwise genius director.
Monkeybone combines all the visual creativity of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" with the intelligence and wit of a 1 celled amoebae. Moments of disturbing visual feasts are interrupted by explosively bad dialogue and jarring, muddled scene switches. Its almost painful to watch such a high minded concept being forcibly drowned in a swirling pool of vomitous ill conceived execution.
The Hobbit would dearly love to lavish praise on a director, who in the past has delivered disturbingly triumphant, albeit oft underapreciated, cinematic wonders to the silver screen, but Monkeybone has gone so far astray from these past gems that it can only be considered a rotten worm infested apple which should be quickly tossed from the bunch lest its rot spread.
The visual edge of "Nightmare" and "James and the Giant Peach" is there, and any fan of these films will find himself WANTING... DESPERATELY WANTING to love Monkeybone. But, no matter how avid the fan, no matter how determined the viewer, there is little here to love. Fraser is great with what he's given, McGowan is captivating, Steven King makes a fantastic cameo, but these moments of joy are so few and far between, and so meager in their impact, that they sink quickly beneath layers and layers of botched dialogue and choppy plot.
Ironically, this movie about nightmares really is a nightmare, and likely will haunt director Henry Selick for the rest of his career.