Space Chimps

Movie Information

The Story: Ham III and two other chimps are sent on a mission into space in search of a missing space probe. The Lowdown: Harmless, adequate kiddie fodder that's at least a little odd.
Score:

Genre: Animated Kiddie Sci-Fi
Director: Kirk De Micco
Starring: Andy Samberg, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Daniels, Patrick Warburton, Kristen Chenoweth
Rated: G

What really is there to say about Space Chimps? It’s your basic computer-animated kiddie movie with a by-the-numbers screenplay that at least offers a few points of borderline strangeness for the adults in the audience. The animation is no better than it needs to be to just get by—though the chimps themselves look too much like the dead monkey in Sunset Blvd. (1950) for my comfort. The voice casting is largely uninspired—any film that casts Andy Samberg in any capacity is low on inspiration or high on desperation. And the end results are modestly entertaining and moderately painless. Under the circumstances, perhaps it would be unfair to ask for more. In any case, you won’t get it.

The story involves Ham III (voice of Samberg), the grandson of Ham and the first chimp to be sent into outer space. Ham III is a self-absorbed, obnoxious circus performer who gets shot out of a cannon and usually comes to a bad landing by showing off. (Will life lessons be learned about this kind of behavior? You betcha.) He gets roped into heading up a simian mission to find out what happened to an unmanned space probe when it got sucked into a wormhole. A corrupt senator (voice of Stanley Tucci) chooses him for his “star quality”—never mind the fact that he’s useless.

Ham III, primate love interest Luna (voice of Cheryl Hines, Waitress) and head chimp Titan (voice of voice actor Patrick Warburton) blast into space and find the errant probe, which is being used to rule a planet by the childishly villainous Zartog (voice of Jeff Daniels), a something-or-other kind of alien. It’s not quite clear what any of the various life-forms on this planet are, but I really question the one called Kilowatt (voice of Kristen Chenoweth, Running with Scissors). She looks suspiciously like an ambulatory breast with teeth—a disconcerting enough image made more unnerving by her tendency to make a noise like Jo Anne Worley’s “operatic” trill on the TV show Laugh-In whenever she gets excited. (Thanks so much for reminding me of this.) Whatever. Adventure follows.

Children will probably like it, though I’m not sure what they’ll make of a psychiatry spoof on the “Cloud of Id.” And I’m glad I won’t be explaining the line, “It’s not the size of your beast, it’s the way that you use it,” to an inquisitive 5-year-old. Then again, I won’t be subjected to Jo Anne Worley impressions once removed either. I’m getting out of this relatively unscathed, all things considered. Rated G.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

8 thoughts on “Space Chimps

  1. The review is pretty much what I expected, but I’m mildly surprised that you gave this a half a star over MAMMA MIA! Neither sounds too hot, and while I know monkeys make everything better, I would have thought bad CGI and voice acting would cancel out that advantage (but you did note that it was moderately “painless,” so I guess that explains the half star).

    I’d never heard of Andy Samberg before. Looking around, he seems to be a poor man’s Jon Heder (or would be if Heder wasn’t already a poor man’s everything).

  2. Ken Hanke

    It may have gotten the extra half-star simply for being 27 minutes shorter. Gotta admit, though, I don’t find it perversely fascinating the way I do Mamma Mia!.

    “The poor man’s Jon Heder.” Boy, that’s a scary concept.

  3. Vince Lugo

    I’m very big on animation and being that that’s the case, there are certain voice actors that I geek towards and Patrick Warburton is one. So often he plays the sidekick or comic relief so whenever he has a semi-leading role, as he does here, I’m interested. I think, if I’m not mistaken, his last semi-lead was as the Wolf in Hoodwinked, another by-the-numbers (but very entertaining) film.

    Remember, though, that Clone Wars is coming and that should be some good animated sci-fi, especially considering that George Lucas didn’t write it and Hayden Christensen is nowhere in sight. I enjoyed the prequel films, despite the clunky dialogue and patches of bad acting among the good but now that Lucas has turned his baby over to other people, I think we’re going to get some better stories. Here’s hoping anyway.

  4. FreakingNews

    This is one of the dumbest kids movies I’ve ever watched. I found it annoying. The littlo kilowatt annoyed the hell out of me.

  5. “Remember, though, that Clone Wars is coming and that should be some good animated sci-fi, especially considering that George Lucas didn’t write it and Hayden Christensen is nowhere in sight.”

    I dunno. After watching the preview I’ve seen more fluid animation in a Mind’s Eye video. Still, I have a 9 year old boy, so I HAVE to go.

  6. Ken Hanke

    After watching the preview I’ve seen more fluid animation in a Mind’s Eye video.

    Saturday morning cartoons are what the trailer reminded me of — or really bad anime. You know, the kind with the halting animation and shots where people are talking and nothing moves at all. The movie must look better than this…I think.

  7. parent of 4 year old

    even my four year old asked to leave after 35 minutes of this tripe.

    spend your money how you will, but buyer beware!

    f

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