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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.25%
Worth A Look: 12.5%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad81.25%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 4 user ratings

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Ape, The (2005)
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by Laura Kyle

"Well, it ain't Ishmael."
2 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL: The Ape reminded me of something. Acting is hard. Especially acting funny. Even for James Franco. .

Wannabe writer Harry takes a sabbatical from family life, camping out in a temporary apartment so he can compose a short story, which will hopefully jumpstart his new artistic career, one that’s outside a cubicle with hours that aren’t nine to five. As he struggles for an opening line, not able to think up any words beyond “the man…” a gorilla – dressed in Harry’s clothes and talking like any Joe off the street, and talking quite a bit –informs Harry that “upkeep of the ape” is part of the apartment lease, and he better get used to it.

After the initial disbelief wears off (in speedy, movie fashion of course), the two form a camaraderie and Harry begins to embrace his animal instincts. as a writer and a human being.

Franco’s script, based on a play and also co-written by Merriwether Williams, is just not sharp enough to cut into any of its meaty subjects and themes. The screenplay’s not sloppy or stupid by any means, but it's misguided and packed with way too much “funny” filler.

The Ape wants to be a social commentary but the bulk of the comedy is of the wAcKy and ZaNy kind and well, let’s just say, the ape insults Harry by calling him gay in one scene, and not in an original way. I had forgotten how FUNNY unembellished jokes about straight guys being homosexuals were, until, wait, they were NEVER FUNNY.

Anyhow, I’m not being totally earnest here – there are more than a few genuinely comedic moments in The Ape (in fact, one scene in particular sticks out in my memory, involving Harry practicing his motivation speech for the office). But moments do not a good film make.

And when the screenplay’s doing its job well, the material moderately clever and humorous, the cast (barring Brian Lally as the gorilla) just proves to be ill prepared to make an audience chuckle on a consistent basis. James Franco fumbles some very important timing…time and time again. It was almost like he was reading off cue cards in a "Saturday Night Live" skit for about a quarter of his scenes. Weak performances, in fact, can be blamed for a lot of why The Ape doesn’t register with moviegoers. And that might be because the story is just too weird and inorganic to get a full commitment from its actors.

The Ape is a pretty good-looking film, in part thanks to cinematographer David Klein. Franco is confident as a director and he succeeds in making his first feature film fairly entertaining, despite itself. It’s a full-hearted effort, but it’s based on a premise that’s just not the most ideal stuff for a first time screenwriter to take on.

Not entirely disappointing, but not at all surprising.

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originally posted: 10/23/05 15:34:59
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2005 Austin Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/18/10 nya I agree it is for people with deep thoughts and a twisted sense of humor. 5 stars
7/15/06 Joe Moran This film is for highly intelligent people with a twisted sense of humor. 4 stars
3/31/06 Elisa G. I've seen worse ape shit. 2 stars
10/28/05 george seoud brian lally is fantastic as the ape hopingto part2 4 stars
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  18-Jun-2005 (NR)
  DVD: 07-Mar-2006



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