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  Going Bananas Chimp My Ride
Year: 1987
Director: Boaz Davidson
Stars: Dom DeLuise, Jimmie Walker, David Mendenhall, Deep Roy, Warren Berlinger, Herbert Lom, Len Sparrowhawk, Peter J. Elliot, Fats Dibeco, Graham Armitage, Mike Westcott, Philip Van der Byl, Bobby Porter, Irene Frangs, Simpson Correra, Gertrude Chifamba
Genre: Comedy, Trash, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ben McNamara (David Mendenhall) is the son of a millionaire who has been allowed to travel to Africa with his guardian "Big Bad Joe" Hopkins (Dom DeLuise) on a very small ship, where they hope to go on safari sightseeing the animals there. On docking at a port, their guide Mozambo (Jimmie Walker) is waiting for them and after a brief introduction he is driving the pair, who only carry one item of hand luggage so are evidently travelling light, into the depths of the African landscape. Ben is enchanted by the fauna he sees there, such as zebra, giraffes and lions, an example of the the latter bothering Big Bad Joe when he tries to sleep as his young charge investigates, and Joe bites a big cat's tail accidentally as he slumbers. But it's something more simian which will prove a problem...

For some reason, call it Clint Eastwood's sidekick in the two bare knuckle boxing trucker movies he made at the end of the seventies, but by the time the eighties showed up, apes were back in the public eye as far as the motion picture industry went. It was notable that very few of these ape films were actually any good, whether it was the low budget talking chimp of Carnival Magic or the giant sized sequel King Kong Lives, but you essentially had two types of primate making waves in these, either the killer variation you were supposed to be scared of such as the ones from Link or Shakma, or a more cuddly incarnation, such as, well, such as the abomination you got here.

You could break these down into two other kinds as well, those which used actual, live apes trained to do the director's bidding, or the other option: like many a jungle epic of decades past, hire the guy in the ape suit to pretend to be the real deal. And so it was Cannon, they of the plethora of action flicks of the eighties, took it upon themselves to enter the children's market with Going Bananas featuring one of the rattiest ape costumes you ever did see, inhabited by prolific small person actor Deep Roy, though only his eyes could be seen plaintively staring from behind his mask. With a curiously triangular hindquarters an unwelcome distraction, this creation was Christened Bonzo by Ben when he finds he cannot get rid of the little bastard after saving him from being stuck in a tree.

Yes, even when it wasn't an action effort the Cannon team were pandering to Ronald Reagan, as after all the President of the United States of America has also encountered a chimp in the rather daft Bedtime for Bonzo, the ape being the title character rather than Reagan, and at least it was an actual chimp in that. Here the creepy thing throws himself around the screen with wild abandon as DeLuise and former sitcom star Walker act as his stooges, and not only them as there's a corrupt official played by Herbert Lom who is often parted from his toupée for comedic effect (they hoped) and wants to capture and sell Bonzo to an evil circus. Sweetening the deal for him is a development halfway through as the animal is revealed to be able to talk in a voice suspiciously similar to that of the Mogwai Gizmo from Gremlins.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any more absurd, producer and in this case screenwriter Menahem Golan showed up the limits of his imagination by having Bonzo behave with bizarrely human characteristics to keep the plot moving, at one point like saving Ben from a pit full of scorpions like Lassie (said Scorpions are whacked to death by a bloodthirsty Roy), the next visiting him in hospital and singing to the boy as he cradles his head in his arms. As if you were in any doubt Cannon was behind this, before long it's plain that violence is the only language anyone understands, so a surprising amount of the cast are either shot at or held at gunpoint, including a scene where the three heroes threaten to blow away three clowns to get their costumes and makeup, all the better to rescue Bonzo yet giving way to said clowns for the action scenes in some very poor stunt doubling. Climaxing with Bonzo flying a plane, crying and jumping a good thirty feet from the dock to a ship unscathed, this was surely one of the worst kids' movies the eighties had to offer - and the weirdest. Music by Pino Donaggio.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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