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.