Movie Review: Space Chimps (2008)
It is official. At the age of five, my children hate me. How did I come to this conclusion? Simple, they dragged me to see Space Chimps, that’s how. I tried repeatedly to convince them they’d rather see Pineapple Express to no avail. In the end though, I think they learned a powerful lesson – Daddy is always right. How did I come to this conclusion? Simple, they fell asleep during the movie (plus I asked them afterwards if I was right and they both emphatically agreed).
Space Chimps is a dull, unimaginative animated flick produced by small-time outfit Vanguard Animation. So small in fact, that they skimped on the animation, the voice talent (which is a bit of surprise since they have used big names in the past) and from the look of things, the catering. This is clearly one of those movies thrown together at the last minute, in an effort to lure the Wall-E kids yearning for another space adventure back into the theaters.
It centers around a cocky circus chimpanzee named Ham (voiced by Andy Samberg). As it turns out his grandfather was a great “astronaut” and as luck would have it, NASA (I forget the made up name they used) has a dilemma. They’ve lost a space probe through a wormhole and want to find out what happened to it. Solution? Assemble a team of chimp astronauts – Ham, Titan (Patrick Warburton) and Luna (Cheryl Hines) – to test the wormhole effects on humanoid subjects before sending humans through it. Sadly, it doesn’t end with the primates being pulverized in some physics anomaly though. Instead, they land on an planet and get involved with trying to save the peaceful inhabitants from their evil overlord, Zartog (Jeff Daniels).
So now onto my points. Space Chimps is unimaginative. The bulk of it is cliche – cocky guy is a world unto himself, cocky guy saves the day and learns humility, girl falls for ex-cocky guy, everyone cheers. And how many times can Hollywood take shots at the government? Get over it already – we know the Republicans are meanies already. Then there is the set for the movie. Animated pictures have the ability to really push the envelope. Either make the scapes as lifelike as possible or come up with some zany, interesting looking, physically impossible world to immerse the viewers in. We get a comical looking earth and an alien landscape primarily covered with sand. That’s imagination for you.
The rest of the animation looks cutting edge for something that was released in 1980. The characters aren’t fleshed out and are rather angular and blocky. This may be a big reason as to why this time around Vanguard couldn’t get some big names to lend their voice talents. In saying that, I’m not trying to take anything away from those that did the work. Samberg and Hines did a good job. Warburton is always good in his typical bloviated role. It’s just a general rule: when good actors lend their voice talent, the picture tends to be of better quality.
As for the catering, I wasn’t there to witness whether stale bagels were mixed in with the fresh. If I had been there, I would have asked for a complete rewrite of the script and an animation overhaul. Like I said, the only good thing that came out of my viewing of Space Chimps was my kids now listen to and accept my profound words of wisdom a bit more.