×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Space Chimps

As light as a banana souffle and about as substantial, "Space Chimps" is a diverting dish for young moviegoing primates. Though dwarfed by the summer's two 800-pound animated gorillas (well, one panda and a robot), Fox's relatively under-the-radar toon is a fairly fatuous but enjoyably slim family entertainment about three chimps dispatched to retrieve a multibillion-dollar intergalactic probe.

With:
Voices: Ham III - Andy Samberg Luna - Cheryl Hines Titan - Patrick Warburton Zartog - Jeff Daniels Dr. Jagu - Omid Abtahi The Senator - Stanley Tucci Dr. Poole - Jane Lynch Comet - Zack Shada Kilowatt - Kristin Chenoweth The Ringmaster - Kenan Thompson Houston - Carlos Alazraqui

As light as a banana souffle and about as substantial, “Space Chimps” is a diverting dish for young moviegoing primates. Though dwarfed by the summer’s two 800-pound animated gorillas (well, one panda and a robot), Fox’s relatively under-the-radar toon is a fairly fatuous but enjoyably slim family entertainment about three chimps dispatched to retrieve a multibillion-dollar intergalactic probe. Without the massive promo push afforded those other behemoths, pic’s theatrical landing may barely register. A more promising payload surely awaits in the home-entertainment sphere.

As much as “Space Chimps” monkeys around with reality, it’s inspired, at least in part, by an actual event: In 1961, NASA sent a chimpanzee called Ham (an acronym for the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center) on a brief mission in an initial test run for manned space exploration. In the premise for this comedy, helmed and co-scripted (with Robert Moreland) by Kirk DeMicco, the chimps are drafted for their first space expedition in decades after the Infinity probe crash-lands on an alien planet.

Unsure of the planet’s atmospheric conditions, the Space Agency, under the eye of an ambitious senator (voiced by Stanley Tucci), resolves to send three highly trained chimps to retrieve the Infinity probe. Sniffing a PR opportunity, the politician suggests filling a seat with Ham III, grandson of the original space chimp — never mind that the junior Ham (Andy Samberg) is a contented member of a traveling circus, whose only aeronautics experience is his day job as a simian cannonball.

Initially resistant, Ham becomes intrigued by the mission only after meeting the attractive and brilliant chimp co-pilot, Lt. Luna (Cheryl Hines). Their teammate, self-important monkey Commander Titan (Patrick Warburton), is more brawn that brains. After a turbulent start, they head into space and land on planet Malgor, where they meet the evil alien Zartog (Jeff Daniels), a kind of crazed, insatiable real-estate developer seeking global dominion.

In no time, Luna and Ham must track down the probe, rescue Titan and help liberate the enslaved Malgoreans. They’re aided by the diminutive Kilowatt (a part tailor-made for Kristin Chenoweth), who leads Luna and Ham through Malgor’s Valley of Really Bad Things, which are, of course, only as bad as a G rating allows.

The quasi-facsimile nature of computer animation — it’s always a hair or two removed from reality — is remarkably well suited to rendering the chimps, who are so disarmingly (and alarmingly) like humans themselves. Effective, too, is the visual design for planet Malgor: It’s as if Dali’s withered landscapes and Bosch’s cast of eccentrics have been slathered in candy-colored hues borrowed from Strawberry Shortcake.

Though it plainly seeks to satisfy young kids, every now and then, “Space Chimps” offers a winking laugh for the adults in the audience. Luna and Ham’s psychobabble dialogue (they’re floating on the Dark Cloud of Id), for instance, may mean little to children, but it’s a choice allusion. The score, credited to Chris Bacon and the Blue Man Group (who invite alien comparisons themselves), seamlessly blends familiar melodies with jaunty new compositions.

Space Chimps

Production: A 20th Century Fox release of a Starz Animation presentation, in association with Odyssey Entertainment and the Weinstein Co., of a Vanguard Animation film. Produced by Barry Sonnenfeld, John H. Williams. Executive producers, Jerry Davis, Louise, Goodsill, John W. Hyde, Tom Jacomb, Ralph Kamp. Co-producers, Curtis Augspurger. Directed by Kirk DeMicco. Screenplay, DeMicco, Robert Moreland; story, DeMicco.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor, widescreen), Jericca Cleland; editor, Debbie Berman, music, Chris P. Bacon; additional music and sound design, Blue Man Group; animation director, Adam Wood; CG supervisor, David Gutman; art director, Matthias Lechner; sound (Dolby Digital/ DTS), Matt Temple, Keith Hodne; supervising sound editor, Sean Garhart; casting, Matthew Jon Beck. Reviewed at 20th Century Fox Studios, July 12, 2008. (In Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, Montreal.) MPAA Rating: G. Running time: 81 MIN.

With: Voices: Ham III - Andy Samberg Luna - Cheryl Hines Titan - Patrick Warburton Zartog - Jeff Daniels Dr. Jagu - Omid Abtahi The Senator - Stanley Tucci Dr. Poole - Jane Lynch Comet - Zack Shada Kilowatt - Kristin Chenoweth The Ringmaster - Kenan Thompson Houston - Carlos Alazraqui

More Film

  • RealD 3D logo

    Wanda Cinema Upgrading China Theaters with RealD Screen Order

    Wanda Cinema Line has placed an order for 100 RealD Ultimate Screens from visual tech specialist RealD. For RealD the deal, announced at the CineAsia convention in Hong Kong, is the largest order in its history from a single exhibition circuit. The high-end equipment, which optimizes the 3D experience, will be installed in Wanda’s mainland [...]

  • Aisling Franciosi

    European Film Promotion Unveils 2019 Shooting Stars

    Aisling Franciosi (“The Nightingale”), Ardalan Esmaili (“The Charmer”) and Elliott Crosset Hove (“Winter Brothers”) are among the 10 actors and actresses who have been named as the European Film Promotion’s Shooting Stars. Previous Shooting Stars include Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts, Pilou Asbæk and Baltasar Kormákur. The new crop of up-and-coming talent for the 22nd edition of [...]

  • Jodie Foster'Money Monster' photocall, Palais, 69th

    Film News Roundup: Jodie Foster to Direct, Star in Remake of Icelandic Thriller

    In today’s film news roundup, Jodie Foster is remaking Iceland’s “Woman at War,” the Art Directors Guild honors production designers Anthony Masters and Ben Carre, “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” gets cast and Melissa Takal directs “New Year New You” for Hulu. PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENT Jodie Foster will direct, co-produce and star in an English-language remake of [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Jake Gyllenhaal to Star in Remake of Denmark's Oscar Entry 'The Guilty' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bold Films, and Jake Gyllenhaal and Riva Marker’s Nine Stories banner have acquired the rights to remake the Danish thriller “The Guilty,” with Gyllenhaal attached to star. The pic won the world cinema audience award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and was also named one of the top five foreign language films of 2018 by [...]

  • Toxic Avenger

    'Toxic Avenger' Movie in the Works at Legendary

    Legendary Entertainment is developing “The Toxic Avenger” as a movie after acquiring the feature film rights. Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz of Troma Entertainment will serve as producers. Alex Garcia and Jay Ashenfelter will oversee for Legendary. Kaufman and Herz produced the original 1984 comedy, set in the fictional town of Tromaville, N.J., and centered [...]

  • Constance Wu

    'Crazy Rich Asians' Star Constance Wu in Negotiations for Romantic Comedy

    “Crazy Rich Asians” star Constance Wu is in talks to join Sony’s Screen Gems’ untitled romantic comedy, with Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman producing. “GLOW” actress Kimmy Gatewood is making her feature directorial debut on the project. She will be directing from a Savion Einstein script about a woman who becomes pregnant with two babies [...]

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal AoA

    Maggie Gyllenhaal on Why a Woman Director Doesn't Automatically Make a Story More Feminine

    Having a female director doesn’t automatically make a story more feminine, says “The Kindergarten Teacher” star Maggie Gyllenhaal, but when it comes to her film with director Sara Colangelo, she says the female narrative is fully encapsulated. “Just because something is written or directed by a woman doesn’t necessarily make it a feminine articulation,” she says [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content