HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Advent Calendar, The
Champion
Merchant of Four Seasons, The
Love of Jeanne Ney, The
Blonde. Purple
Dirty Ho
Annette
Shepherd
Dying to Divorce
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
Trouble with Being Born, The
Last Matinee, The
Strings, The
Free Hand for a Tough Cop
People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan
Dear Future Children
Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus
Swallow
Thin Red Line, The
Petite Maman
Fast & Furious 9
Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat
Sweet Thing
Maelstrom
Father, The
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Night House, The
Father of Flies
80,000 Years Old
Dead & Beautiful
Bull
Censor
Sleep
Freaky
Nightbooks
Whisker Away, A
Wild Indian
Whale Island
Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires
Don't Breathe 2
   
 
Newest Articles
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
   
 
  Buddy Educating Ape
Year: 1997
Director: Caroline Thompson
Stars: Rene Russo, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Cumming, Irma P. Hall, Mak Wilson, Paul Reubens, John Aylward
Genre: Comedy, Drama, BiopicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Gertrude Lintz (Rene Russo), a wealthy and eccentric socialite in the Twenties, has turned her palatial estate into an animal sanctuary. Alongside her loving, endlessly patient husband Dr. Bill Lintz (Robbie Coltrane), Gertrude runs a zoo, breeds prize-winning dogs and most importantly rears a group of decidedly mischievous chimpanzees as if they were human children. Which means they wear human clothes, play with toys and visit the local cinema where they regularly wreak havoc and scare people witless. Gertrude applies the same philosophy when she adopts an orphaned gorilla she christens Buddy. Hand-reared and bottle fed by the doting Gertude, young Buddy grows increasingly dependent upon the woman he regards as his mother. Yet when Buddy grows up, he struggles to find his place in the human world and increasingly reverts to savagery. It slowly dawns on Gertrude that a wild animal belongs in the wild, but given Buddy has no idea how to fend for himself what can she do?

Co-produced by the Jim Henson Company and Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope, Buddy was the second film from writer-director Caroline Thompson, favoured screenwriter of Tim Burton for whom she penned Edward Scissorhands (1990) and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). Following her fresh take on the Anna Sewell classic Black Beauty (1995) Buddy reflected Thompson's obvious affection for animals and empathy with their struggle to find a safe place in a tumultuous world governed by the dictates of men. The screenplay was adapted from a book written by the real Gertrude Lintz detailing the life of not one but actually two gorillas raised at home, Massa who went on to become the oldest gorilla on record until 2008 and Gargantua who was originally known as Buddy and sadly died young as a circus attraction while his remains are now displayed in a museum.

Aspects of the film imply Thompson intended Buddy to serve as a fable about motherhood, as Gertrude struggles to regain control over her increasingly wayward “son” who comes to resent her attempts to civilize him and lashes out, yet the slight running time suggests the studio tampered with the production to craft a more conventional family film. As a result the film strikes an awkward tone veering constantly from slapstick monkey mischief into more earnest docu-drama along the lines of Gorillas in the Mist (1988). There is a lot of time spent detailing the naughty antics of chimpanzees Maggie and Joe. Yet while the chimps are remarkable actors and liven things up, the more intriguing aspects of the story remain under-developed. What the film does have going for it is a terrific central performance from Rene Russo in an all too rare leading role. From the moment Gertrude greets her assembled animals with a jungle yell Russo's ebullient performance pulls the viewer along through a wayward narrative through sheer force of personality. The film itself might pale beside her stellar turn in the Pierce Brosnan remake of The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) but goes some way to proving her oft-overlooked skill as an actress.

Yet though the film goes out of its way to lionize Gertrude Lintz as a free-spirit, idealist and defiant non-conformist it never probes the wisdom of her actions that are in some way responsible for poor Buddy's plight. Sure, in the jungle a motherless baby gorilla would have starved to death but while Gertrude's compassion gave Buddy a chance at life viewers may find themselves reluctantly sharing the point of view her more skeptical associates when she sets out to raise him as a human boy. Ultimately the plot only proves what most sensible animal lovers already know, which is that one cannot, or perhaps more importantly should not, try to raise an ape as a human being. Animals should be allotted their dignity and respect as animals. As Buddy grows older he inevitably also grows wilder and feels increasingly insecure and alienated, which culminates in him running amuck (going ape-shit, if you will) on an ill-advised trip to the World's Fair. Gertrude's eagerness to exhibit her apes on the vaudeville circuit adds another troubling layer of ambiguity the film fails to address.

Surprisingly the biggest criticisms were leveled at the animatronic ape effects created by the Henson company. True, the ape suit looks unrealistic set beside real apes like Maggie and Joe but as one of the last examples of practical effects employed in an ape movie instead of sleek and shiny CGI, the puppetry is as accomplished and expressive as one would expect of the Henson unit. Many of the tender scenes between Russo and Buddy do move even if the film as a whole proves disappointingly amorphous.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3009 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (1)
Posted by:
Graeme Clark
Date:
13 Mar 2015
  Is this tale where Tippi Hedren got the idea from? OK, for her that was big cats, but the same concerns apply...
       


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: