Fox // 2008 // 81 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 10th, 2008
In space, no one can hear you throw poop at the walls.
The CGI family animated film genre is getting crowded these days. Can the cats at Starz Animation play on the big boys field with their interstellar primate adventure?
When a wormhole that leads to an alien planet is discovered, the faux-NASA agency that's in charge of this sort of thing puts together ace team of chimpanzees to fire off into space and hope their brains don't explode. Heading the team is macho Commander Titan (Patrick Warburton, The Tick), backed up by the lovely -- at least lovely to other chimps -- Lt. Luna (Cheryl Hines, Curb Your Enthusiasm), and hotshot newcomer Ham (Andy Samberg, Hot Rod), a smartass and former stunt monkey for the circus. But when our simian heroes land on the planet, they discover they've gotten themselves into the middle of an alien political coup. A diabolical alien leader (Jeff Daniels) is subjugating his people and preparing to destroy their homes for no discernable reason other than he's a massive prick.
I'll tell you, I see no reason why kids won't get a kick out of this movie. It being a G-rated affair, completely devoid of all manner of innuendo and even the slightest scent of thematic material, parents can rest easy knowing there's nothing contained within this Blu-ray that will corrupt their impressionable offspring.
Beyond that, there's not much I can say in favor of what is a production that belongs on the low tier of computer-animated filmmaking. Space Chimps is an unfunny, frantic, charm-free movie that is heavy on the effort but light on the pay-off.
I mean, these guys try really, really hard. They want to make Ham a memorable animated character and Andy Samberg does well with the voice, but the material just isn't there. He's supposed to be a sarcastic rapscallion, but nine times out of ten, homeboy just ends up sounding like a jerk. Worse, a jerk that thinks he's real funny, even though everyone within earshot of his schtick knows the truth. But he can take solace in the fact that the characters around him also have jack squat to work with.
Now, yes, there are a few funny lines, but the batting average is way low. Like .225. There was a joke about monkeys on a treadmill that got a laugh out of me and some of the stuff Patrick Warburton's character said is funny (or maybe it's because anything that Patrick Warburton says is funny to me) but beyond that it's slim pickings. Again, I'm sure the kids won't mind. There are a lot of funny faces, dancing, more funny faces, flying alien bird-things that shoot pointy spears into butts, and a tiny alien with a huge baby head.
The requisite final action scene is present and accounted for: Returning to Earth, the space chimps try desperately to land their makeshift rocket on the back of a truck, which also happens to be driven by a monkey.
The animation is serviceable, but there's nothing that will make your jaw drop. The alien world is ho-hum, featuring very little creative design, and the characters are rendered with little fanfare. Missing is the intricate detailing we've come to see in the higher-end animated films. On Blu-ray, the animation looks great, despite its relative simplicity. The amped-up resolution (brought to you in 2.35:1 widescreen) generates some very clean picture quality. What detail there is in the animation is benefited greatly from the HD upgrade. Colors are robust throughout, and this is a film that is rich in colors. Overall, a very nice Blu-ray video presentation. The DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix supplements the transfer well, pushing out crisp dialogue and active sound effects across the surrounds. Extras are a joke: a standard-def Fox Movie Channel feature on the cast, a still gallery and trailers.
The movie's a witless affair and the extras are pathetic, but the technical offering is a strong one on Blu-ray.
Guilty. Here's a banana. No hard feelings?
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated G
* Still Gallery