In o primate-like society a roaming alpha male and his beta head into town and make a move to take over. They hook up with a rebellious female and a deadly feud is ignited between the two tribes. Using entirely a language of grunts and gibberish, Steve Oram's debut feature is a celluloid primal scream - an anarchic, hilarious, disturbing and touching look at the human condition like nothing you've seen before.
Monkey see, monkey do...
- Aaaaaaaah! review by Count Otto Black
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You rated this film: 2
Oh dear... Yes, it's another of those films which the trendy critics fall over themselves to say they love, but which somehow don't appeal to a very large audience. The gimmick here is the exact opposite of the current "Planet Of The Apes" franchise. Instead of chimpanzees who have the intellectual and communication skills of humans but look exactly like and in some ways behave like chimpanzees, we've got humans who live in what seems to be a perfectly normal modern British city, but have the intelligence, behavior patterns, and verbal skills of chimpanzees.
The trouble is, that's it. The performances are actually very good, but since these "people" have the mentalities of oversexed ultra-violent toddlers, all the themes covered are extremely basic. Alpha males squabble and clash with varying degrees of violence, up to and including extreme, for the ownership rights to the prettiest females. Along the way, we get a very blunt satire of the chav lifestyle - many scenes are basically Paul & Pauline Calf taken to their logical extreme and then some, losing almost all the jokes along the way; these people may know how to operate computer games and the widescreen TVs they covet, but they can't even talk, and their bodily wastes usually end up on the floor. However, on the plus side, there is explicit onscreen genital mutilation played for laughs.
The originality of the premise, and the lengths to which it's taken - remember, chimpanzees have almost no inhibitions whatsoever about anything - initially drew me in because the cast really do give it everything they've got. But this is a textbook example of a one-joke film, and that joke is taken so far that it quickly ceases to be funny. Things like a TV cookery show for humans with the minds of monkeys might have worked very well as brief running gags in a sketch show (by an amazing coincidence, this film was made by the team responsible for "The Mighty Boosh"), though a similar spoof of "Cheers" seems absurdly belated, but the sheer relentless ugliness of it wears you down after a while.
I'm giving this repellent film more than one star because the level of effort the actors, most of whom appear to believe it's worth taking seriously, put into it is genuinely surprising, and at times comes close to making it work. But it's so one-note that they have an impossible task, and although it does have funny moments, they're outnumbered by things that are simply repellent. Yes, it's original, but that isn't everything, and it's a very shallow kind of originality. By the way, if you sometimes wonder whatever happened to Toyah Wilcox, here she is, playing a somewhat past-it but still marginally sexy chav ape-woman. And, almost unbelievably, the soundtrack is provided by what's left of King Crimson! I suppose at their age they need all the work they can get.