Planet of the Apes

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By Mark Ramsey | 2001/07/26

“This is not a remake,” says director Tim Burton, stridently. “It’s more like a re-makity-make. I’m not a re-maker; I’m a re-makity-maker.”

Tim wants to make sure we know that this Planet of the Apes is not Earth. Not to worry. How can this possibly be Earth when supermodel Estella Warren’s in her lash-batting, lip-pouting prime, covered by the flimsiest cleavage-cloth – and Mark Wahlberg falls for monkey-face Helena Bonham Carter instead! That’s not the Earth I know! Although loving a monkey beats spanking it, I suppose.

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The makeup here is outstanding – much better than the Tupperware-lips in the original Apes. Although greasepaint maestro Rick Baker should focus a little on his own hair appliance – it’s floating atop his head like a salt-and-pepper Gilligan’s Island. In fact, production was delayed when castaway Tom Hanks scrawled “HELP” on Rick’s forehead.

One thing’s for sure, Rick knows ape-style: With her shibby coiffure and puffy monkey mouth, Helena Bonham Carter looks like Jennifer Aniston with a collagen problem. Fashion by Oscar de la Rhesus and Jean Paul Gorillatier. Available at Simian Marcus. Ee-ee-ee-eeh!

All the apes talk like their mouths are full of Sean Connery. “The Shenator’s daughter flirts with blashphemy,” mumbles Michael Clarke Duncan. Did you say “blashphemy?” “Why can’t the government shimply shterilize them all?” burbles Lisa Marie, the Tito Jackson of the Tim Burton family. Repeat after me, Lisa: “Six sick slick slim sycamore saplings.”

It’s the future, and we’re in outer space. Despite advances in technology, we still need chimps for our dirty work – those reconnaissance missions too dangerous for humans, such as dating Shannon Doherty. The chimps must be kept in separate cages because of their unfortunate habit of constant fornication. Hey, it works for Kevin Costner.

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A magnetic storm menaces the space station so a chimp rockets out to investigate and is lost. Wahlberg races to rescue him, instead crossing a space-time vortex, crash-landing, and coming face to face with supermodel Estella and her daddy, Kris Kristofferson. Her daddy Kris Kristofferson? If these two share a common gene pool, somebody needs to add more chlorine.

Estella’s shredded garments cover just enough of her maiden form to make a PG-13-year-old blush. She has maybe six lines in this movie, two of which were only in her imagination and several more only in mine. There’s something about the sight of her on horseback that consumes the imagination and fires the heart – or thereabouts.

After her capture, Estella is branded by the apes. Hopefully, she’ll be covered by my insurance until a generic becomes available. She spends much of this movie fighting off gorillas, thus reliving nostalgic scenes from many a fraternity party.

“You said they’d come for us,” says Estella, hoping for rescue and baring her supernaturally brilliant white teeth surrounded by a captivating layer of lipstick. Lipstick? Evidently MAC grows wild on this planet – from little Vogue bushes.

There is a huge amount of comic relief in this movie, most of it gravitating around Paul “Jungle” Giamatti. If there’s an Ape City Improv, open mic night has a new best friend.

In fact, it’s the funny stuff – the characteristically quirky, cheeky, Tim Burton-style funny stuff – that makes this movie as good as it is. This is as much a comedy-adventure as an action-adventure, and that’s okay with me. I mean, how can you take seriously the notion of a planet full of talking apes? Although we live on a planet of talking bowlers, so maybe anything’s possible.

If you’re a fan of the franchise you’ll appreciate the devilishly hip nods to the original Apes. How can you not love the cool cameo by Charlton Heston who gratifyingly reprises one of his most famous overacted lines from the original (and God knows there’s an infinite supply to choose from)?

Planet of the Apes works as an action flick, it works as a comedy, it just plain works. From start to finish this is my kind of monkey business.


Photos Copyright ©2001 20th Century Fox

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