a critiQal film review Space Chimps (2008)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Three NASA chimps are sent to a galaxy far, far away. They find themselves on a strange, uncharted planet, where they embark on a fantastical journey to save its inhabitants from a tyrannical leader.

668 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 20s)

This summer, despite popular opinion, there was more than one animated comedy in theaters. While we were all distracted with Pixar’s new hit , a animated comedy about chimps in space made it’s way through theaters – titled, appropriately enough, Space Chimps.

Since we were among the huge crowds that went to see in theaters, we missed catching a glimpse of Space Chimps on the big screen. Now, however, it’s a different story, since Space Chimps has arrived on DVD (and we already own the DVD).

So, while Space Chimps will probably pale in comparison to Pixar’s latest masterpiece, will it be worth a look now that it’s arrived on DVD?

Patrick Warburton, the non-declared voice king of animated films, shows up with his usual hilarity in Space Chimps as a by-the-rules chimp named Titan. His deadpan humor and memorable voice help Titan – and the viewers – enjoy his moments on screen, but he’s never been one to showboat, and let’s others take up the majority of the screen time.

Among those are Cheryl Hines and “SNL” supporting player Andy Samberg. While neither are immediately recognizable, they both do decent jobs in their roles, making the characters if not entirely memorable, than at least palpatable on-screen. Jeff Daniels, Kristin Chenoweth and Stanley Tucci pop in as well, voicing the tyrannical alien leader, a glowing firefly derivative on the alien planet and a Senator, respectively, and all did decent jobs. Coming from them, of course, decent isn’t exactly up to par, but they were still able to make the characters palpatable, if not entirely memorable.

While the character voices were passable, the plot itself was a little bit…well, far-fetched might be the word. A space probe is sucked through a wormhole and lands on a technicolor alien planet, only to be taken over by a bad-tempered alien, who then uses the probe – which apparently comes equipped with enough mechanical arms to make an octopus jealous, along with lots of useless high-tech gadgets – and proceeds to enslave the entire planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, NASA discovers the wormhole and decides to send chimps through to see if they will survive.

While the training sequences were fun and highly entertaining, the film jumps from those few brief sequences to suddenly blasting the chimps off into space. Jumps is exactly the word, as one of the chimps closes his eyes – and re-opens them to find himself blasting off. A bit jarring and disappointing, since the viewer is a bit worried the best part of the film may have just been shut off.

While Chenoweth’s firefly is a welcome sight once the chimps hit the alien world, the rest of the plot on that planet is utterly laughable – and not in the comedic sense. Instead, viewers are then subjected to too many adventures on this foreign planet, and will long for Earth long before the film ends. Thankfully, the viewer is given quick glimpses of the stereotypically nerd scientists back on Earth, but these are short enough that the teasing makes the viewer’s yearning for the chimps to return home that much more apparent.

Still, as a kids’ movie, Space Chimps should go over well. Kids will love the multi-colored funny-looking alien blobs almost equal to the amount of disdain adults will discover towards these same aliens, and the chimps are funny enough to give both children and adults more than a couple of chuckles.

If this is a family night movie for you, the adults will probably enjoy the pre-flight chimps and gradually grow more and more irritated with the post-flight part of the film, whereas kids will probably find more delight with the aliens than with some of the dialogue (as the David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust reference, for one, will fly way over their heads).

Despite it’s flaws, Space Chimps is passable as a fun family night film, but probably only the smaller kids will be rushing out to own this one – despite the laughs.

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