Sunday, August 17, 2008

Space Chimps

What Does This Button Do?

I'm going to admit that I've enjoyed Space Chimps. No, I've not gone bananas, but there's something beautiful about this goofy animated comedy that appealed, perhaps in its simplicity and its not attempting to try and be more than it cannot be.

Ham III (voiced by Andy Samberg). a circus monkey whose the key to the "monkey cannonball" act, happens to be the descendent of its decorated ancestor Ham I, the first monkey to have entered outer space. As NASA does send animals early in their history of missions to perform certain tests, and more so as guinea pigs, their current space programme is under threat of being axed, unless of course the scientists can all prove their worth. Just so happens that a space probe gets send to the opposite side of a wormhole, that it presents an opportunity to send a crack team of animals to the other side as well to test waters, hence the assembly of our merry animals.

You have Ham III, the reluctant astronaut put into the team for some PR purpose, who joins the usual caricatures of team captain and beefcake Titan, as well as beautiful Luna, who provides the brains for the mission and cursory love interest for our protagonist chimp. On the ground, besides the wacky human scientists who always deny their nerd status, you have Comet and Houston, fellow chimps who provide ground expertise to our crew's mission in space. Truth is, and a departure in animated movies of late, this one is sans big name stars or voice talent, and doesn't detract you away from the story, nor have one talent steal the thunder from the rest. Like a well oiled space mission, Space Chimps is and plays out like a consolidated team effort.

The adversary they face are a group of silly aliens under the control of Zartog, who consolidated his power no thanks to the human space probe by hitting the manual override button, as well as various environmental challenges reminiscent of the latest Journey to the Center of the Earth, and provides ample opportunity for some pretty wacky characters, with set action pieces like swinging from vine to vine, making more sense here when compared to that in The Crystal Skull.

The graphics here are kept simple and uncomplicated. It's easy to find fault with so many things in this movie, given the likes of Pixar which has set the benchmark, but as I've said, I'm not looking for too much, and the simplicity of it all in Space Chimps makes it a refreshing breath of fresh air. The story at times might find itself hard pressed to throw in some wisecracks on pop culture, but there are indeed moments to have it in the movie so subtly, you'll probably blink and you miss it. If you're willing to leave your 1% intellect at the door, perhaps you may just enjoy this movie about primates that exhibit similar emotions and attributes to our own.

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