Space Chimps

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Space Chimps

Release Date: July 18
Director: Kirk DeMicco
Writers: Kirk DeMicco, Rob Moreland
Cinematographer: Jericca Cleland
Starring: Andy Samberg, Cheryl Hines, Patrick Warburton, Kristin Chenoweth, Stanley Tucci
Studio/Run Time: Twentieth Century Fox, 81 mins.

When hearing the title "Space Chimps," it’s hard not to envision the pitch meeting that made the film happen. I figure it went something like this:

Nameless Executive 1: I know what kids like these days—monkeys.

Nameless Executive 2: You’re right!My nephew likes monkeys. I hear they’re so hot right now.

NE1: And they’re always comedic gold.Now we just need to add one more element. Robots?Pirates? Ninjas?Some sort of robotic pirate ninjas?

Producer Barry Sonnenfeld: You know what worked for me in Men in Black?Space!

NE2: Sold!You over there, work up the marketing deal with Taco Bell.Sonnenfeld, you rig up the trailer and round up someone to direct the film.

PBS: What about the story?

NE1: Story? What do you mean, story? We already have the story:it’s monkeys in space.We’ll figure out the specifics when the trailer comes in.Good work, everyone. Lattes for all!

Or, something. In any case, that’s the way the film feels.Andy Samberg stars as the obligatory celebrity voice lead Ham III, a circus chimp who dreams of making his way into space and following in footsteps of his grandfather Ham, the first chimp in space.When given the chance, though, he's reluctant, but still chosen for the adventure.Ham and his crew go through a wormhole, land on a world being terrorized by a NASA space probe/incredibly-powerful war machine, and work to save the local population and return home.Along the way, Space Chimps is hampered by an unnecessary romantic side-plot, phoned-in wacky hijinks and frankly obnoxious pop-culture references that do little to differentiate it from any other family friendly CGI film of the past decade.

The best that can be said for Space Chimps is that it’s utterly undistinguished.While the art style verges on Seussian at moments, it always dials things back before becoming truly inspired by its setting.Likewise, the voice acting is passable, clearly a workmanlike effort from all involved to do an acceptable job but nothing more.Space Chimps isn’t devoid of laughs, but they’re same old, same old chuckles, and a lack of any character development or an even vaguely believable plot keeps the writing from touching on anything below the surface.At the end of the day, Space Chimps feels far more like a product designed to appeal to children than a film meant to delight an audience, and the difference between its slapdash effort and the love thrown into a Pixar feature is palpable.