FILM REVIEW: Space Chimps
U • 80 mins • 1 August
Director: Kirk De Micco
Starring: (voices of) Andy Samberg, Cheryl Hines, Patrick Warburton, Jeff Daniels, Kristin Chenoweth, Carlos Alazraqui
If you – or more likely a pack of young ‘uns in your immediate/extended family – are itching to watch a wondrous, dazzling explosion of space adventure, do everyone a favour. Go and see if Wall-E is still showing. But if there’s absolutely, positively nothing else around and the idea of chimps chattering away on an alien world is still appealing, then this lightweight adventure might have some entertainment value.
We’re introduced to Ham III, grandson of America’s most famous space hero chimp, who makes his living as a performing cannonball in a circus. A cash-strapped NASA desperate for a “name” astro-simian soon recruits him for a mission through a wormhole to a planet that might offer alien life. Soon he’s rocketing away from Earth in the company of the composed Luna and the officious commander Titan. You can probably guess most of what happens when they crash down on the alien-filled world.
Despite amiable voice work from Lazy Sunday’s Andy Samberg, Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Cheryl Hinds and just-about-anything-animated’s Patrick Warburton, Space Chimps never really escapes the crushing gravity of a dull, predictable script and supporting characters that run the gamut from clichéd to dull. Even enthusiastic character types like Jeff Daniels and Stanley Tucci are wasted in a trivial tale that falls back on yet another re-telling of the “believe in yourself” moral that kids have been blasted with for years.
There are a few decent laughs to be found floating about here and there, but the “adult” gags are tired (2001: A Space Odyssey? Again? Really? Sigh…) and the kids’ stuff is seriously sub-par, feeling more like an advert for the videogame (in shops now!) than a fully-fledged toon.