Review by Diana and Runt
Director: Henry Selick
Everyone knows, or should know, that cartoons are the alternative sexuality for nerdy cartoonists. Remember that Bloom County one where Steve Dallas is talking to a cartoonist who draws "AmazonWoman," the voluptuous superheroine who's only job is to sharpen the cartoonist's pencils. He shamefacedly admits he didn't date much.
Monkeybone is the manisfestation of Stu Miley's sexuality -- he says and does things that shy, picked-on Stu simply cannot. He can air his hormones and emotional angst in an animated cartoon, and it ends up doing superlatively well. He is on the verge of superstardom, and is being offered syndication and licensing agreements up the wazoo. But ... he only wants the love of his woman, Dr. Julie McElroy, a sleep study specialist. He plans to ask her to marry him, but alas, he gets into a car accident and ends up in a coma.
Turns out that Death is Whoopi Goldberg and his creation, Monkeybone, live in "Downtown" -- the land of nightmares, which is where you go when in a coma. You can get sentenced to death, or you get out and end up back in the land of the living, depending on what Death decides. There is a loophole: you can steal a passkey to get out of nightmareland. Stu wants so desperately to see Julie again that he risks stealing the passkey, but is doublecrossed by Monkeybone and the other mutated bad dreams of the nightmare universe.
That's just the setup ... there is more to the movie and it's actually constructed pretty well. The nightmare coma universe is connected to the living world, and the warped, freakish residents of Downtown need to be fed nightmares to survive. Dr. McElroy creates a potion that induces nightmares; she tries to administer it to Stu to scare him out of his coma ... You can see why the Downtowners are interested in keeping Stu among them ...
Okay, it's silly and strange (especially the animated corpse with the broken neck and the band of organ retrieval surgeons!). But it's a likable movie, with funny bits (including the dead gymnast) and it actually makes sense. It's a bit reminiscent of The Mask -- it's not the first film to use the premise of an alter-ego taking over the conscious ego's body, nor the first to use a beautiful blonde as the love interest for a dorky nerd. The "Downtown" bits are very much like The Nightmare Before Christmas, so be careful if your kids are frightened by gory, terrifying puppets.
Brendan Fraser is a goofy guy who can also play Harrison Ford type of characters ... almost. Okay, he's primarily goofy, less like Han Solo. Like other Fraser movies, it's essentially a love story, with guys duking it out, but not over a girl (okay, sort of over a girl) ... it's over control of Stu's body!
Well worth it's price, and fun. See it!