Saturday, August 02, 2008

A Chimp in Space Oddity

Of all the animated movies I've seen recently I have to say, much to my surprise, Space Chimps had the best script. I didn't expect much of Kung-Fu Panda but it was funnier than I expected and the children thought it was a lot of fun.

Then there was Wall-E. I'd heard it was good, and it was Pixar which was a good sign. It was okay. The animation was superb, of course, and yet structurally the script suffered from fundamental mistakes which made the ending a bit flat.


The protagonist is Wall-E, the bad guy is the Axiom's pilot computer. Yet a plot is as strong as the antagonist who, in this, doesn't appear until at least 1/3rd the way through (maybe 1/2). And then it's not Wall-E who defeats it, but the ship's captain. Flat. Wall-E has no fundamental flow that he needs to overcome, neither does the love-interest. In fact Wall-E goes through the film with only a single purpose and completely unaware that he is changing the lives of those he encounters.


Then there's Space Chimps: it's very funny and, unlike Wall-E, it makes it very clear who the bad guy is right at the start even though protagonist and antagonist don't meet until the showdown. There's plenty of slapstick for the younger kids but a lot of the humour is parent-directed.

But there was this one joke towards the end, where the protagonist, Ham III, is required to pilot the ship back home. But he's just a circus chimp and says he can't do it. The NASA chimp, Titan, says "Are you wearing an aluminium suit?" "Yes." "Are you in outer space?" "Yes." "Are you David Bowie?" "... No." "Then you're an astronaut!"

I smiled at the Bowie joke. The cinema was packed with parents and kids, but only two out-loud laughs exploded at the Bowie joke. My almost-11 year old son and my 17 year-old daughter.

Apparently we were the only ones who got the joke. Clearly they have been brought up properly.

What's on the turntable? Nothing, we're watching TV.

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