Eye For Film >> Movies >> Chunky Monkey (2001) Film Review
Reviewed by: Themroc
Chunky Monkey is the story of Burnley Bachelor Donald Leek’s attempts to prepare his flat for the arrival of his date, a Julie Andrews look-alike who shares Donald’s penchant for sodomy lubricated by the eponymous Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream. When the film opens we find him clearing up the remains of the proprietor of his local Indian (who has made the mistake of forgetting to send him a Christmas card), before he is subsequently interrupted by a pair of skinhead Christian fundamentalists, Jesus Christ (reincarnated as a black man in a comedy afro wig), Donald’s ditzy neighbour Beryl and her date Pierre (a French Tony Ferrino with comedy accent), and finally Donald’s cousin Frank and his date, hardcore porn actress Gaynor.
Unfortunately, neither the characters nor the narrative seem to have got beyond the “Wouldn’t it be funny if…” stage, so the end result is an episodic parade of two-dimensional character types whose introduction is dimly motivated and who barely interact with one another once they appear. Instead, the film plays out as a succession of dramatic non-sequiturs enacted by one character (Jesus walks on water in the bathroom, Pierre sings a cheesy crooner number for Gaynor while licking her lasciviously and so on) while the others watch open-mouthed. Just as I was starting to wonder where on earth all this was going, a handgun was produced, a bloodbath was contrived, and our hero conveniently cleaned everything up just in time for his anal sex session (which occurs tastefully offscreen, since you ask).
Chunky Monkey arrives on British screens (and in a month on DVD) following years of lawsuits (including one from Ms. Andrews who frankly should have known better), and flaunts the controversy that trailed in its wake as a badge of honour. 'Contains moments of non-offensive material!' boasts the DVD sleeve. But the brutal truth is that’s it’s neither as funny nor outrageous as either the synopsis or the self-congratulatory publicity lead you to believe. It could be that during the film’s long and drawn out gestation period it has dated badly, but in the age of sophisticated and genuinely provocative comedy such as Brass Eye and even Jerry Springer: The Opera, the bar has been set far higher than Chunky Monkey is either willing or able to reach. It lacks the necessary wit and insight to be considered even broadly satirical, it is too incoherent to be effective and too ill conceived and poorly paced to be funny. Good comedy depends on delivery and timing, and in film this is achieved, at least in part, by the way in which a film is shot and edited. Yet almost all the handheld camerawork is so sloppily framed and the editing so flabby and arbitrary that even when the script does throw up a good line, and even when that line is well-delivered, it is more often than not left floundering in no-man’s land.
Low-brow and childish the Airplane and Naked Gun films (for example) may have been, but what made them so successful was that they were written and directed by people who understood that anarchic jokes alone were worthless unless supported by the understanding of basic film grammar and craftsmanship that Chunky Monkey conspicuously lacks.Reviewed on: 13 Aug 2005