This is a film about a brilliant scientist working on a cure for ageing, that he is testing on chimps in his lab. So it’s basically the plot of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. But when an experiment goes wrong the chimps don’t turn super-smart and take over the world – the humans get the minds of children! It sure is a fine line between apocalyptic action film and screwball comedy.
For a film with such a wacky premise Monkey Business benefits from a stellar cast of Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers and Marilyn Monroe, probably thanks to being helmed by the legendary Howard Hawks. And while it doesn’t have the showmanship of some of his other films, it manages to pack in a lot of laughs.
The opening is fairly weak with characters which are hard to get to know, but it turns out they’re just holding back, ready to ham it up when they’re under the influence. Incredibly, for such a high profile cast, the most notable performance is from a chimp, who’s name I am unfortunately unable to discover. There’s a scene in which he escapes from his cage, goes to a desk, sits and mixes a potion all without cutting.
Weirdly, the ape is pretty much irrelevant to the plot. They don’t end up acting like monkeys, nor does the monkey act strangely (apart from wearing clothes). All it does is mix the potion, which could have happened by any other means. I wonder if they wrote the title and worked back.
Anyway, it remains a mildly amusing farce in which some legends of the screen have some unrestrained fun.