"Bone 2 be bad"
Review by Ross Anthony

A cartoonist (Brendan Fraser) plagued by nightmares in the past, finds love and sweet dreams in sleep doctor (Bridget Fonda). Unfortunately, a freak accident on the night of his new animated pilot's gala celebration knocks him into a surreal fantasy coma. Here the mild-mannered artist faces his cute muppetlike alto ego - the nasty, selfish, horny Monkeybone.

"Welcome to downtown - where the night mares." Brendan spends much of the movie here, making deals with the god of sleep (brought to life marvelously by Giancarlo Esposito as some sort of hoofed animal) and the god of death (Whoopi Goldberg). Like his earlier works, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "James and the Giant Peach," director Henry Selick relies heavily on good old-fashioned stop-motion animation for his furry lead as well as many of the downtown characters. Integrating all of that with live actors is a daunting task.

Thick and dark art direction oozes like syrup on pancakes. Downtown (coma-land) floats appropriately in some cosmic abyss and plays like a twisted amusement park. It's a hauntingly delightful creation. Also, in one sweet scene, Brendan is able to witness the black and white crystal-ball dream of his true love who awaits him hospital bedside in the land of the real.

Aside from one extremely hilarious scene in which Brendan "goes ape" for Bridget, swinging on bed posts to the tune of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady;" Fraser is (as Death says) rather vanilla. An easy first choice for this role might have been Jim Carrey, though I'm sure others could be found to navigate the difficulties in leading and pulling together a production of live and non-live costars and sets. Though cute and crass, even the animated "Monkeybone" isn't over the top entertaining. Never uninteresting, "Monkeybone" the movie doesn't break out of it's own dreamlike state into the land of "bust your audience's gut" until organ-donor-man brings new life to the project.

This actor (Chris Kattan), his organ-donor character, scripting and capture on film score straight 10's in the humor Olympics. If the two leads were this passionately funny (coupled with a bit of story editing) - then we'd be talking about the best film of the year.


  • Monkeybone. Copyright © 2001. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Brendan Fraser, Bridget Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Kattan, David Foley Giancarlo Esposito, John Turturro (Monkeybone), Rose McGowan.
  • Directed by Henry Selick.
  • Written by Sam Hamm.
  • Produced by Mark Radcliffe, Michael Barnathan at 20th Century Fox.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:03:40 PDT