A struggling writer’s id emerges in the form of a wisecracking simian in James Franco’s self-indulgent “The Ape.” Pic evolved from a stage version at Los Angeles’ Playhouse West, known for its Hollywood-friendly showcase theater bookings. Though only containing enough material, humor and ideas for a short, talky text runs on and on as Franco struggles in front of and behind the camera. Even generous midnight movie exhibitors should think twice.
Finding it impossible to jumpstart his novel at home, Harry (Franco) rents a Gotham flat for peace and quiet until an ape (Brian Lally, in full costume, and usually wearing a Hawaiian shirt) appears, insisting he comes with the place. Bringing out the worst in Harry, the macho ape pushes his new pal to act obnoxiously at work and to write with total abandon. It’s a strategy that’s a loser from the start, and it drags the film down with it. Lally is amusing in small doses, while chimps in cutaway shots steal pic.