Genre: Action/Adventure, Thriller
Cast: Laura Linney, Dylan Walsh, Tim Curry
Synopsis: Hard-hearted corporate bastards team up with do-gooder academics and their stoner-retard gorilla on a search-and-rescue mission to deepest, darkest Africa. There’s also some sort of monkey-diamond mine subplot too.
I may have talked about Fatal Attractions on this blog before. I am not referring to Fatal Attraction, the fantastic 80s movie with Glenn Close getting her stalker game-face on while wearing an assortment of shoulder pads and retro hairstyles which are in no way flattering. What I am referring to is the Animal Planet documentary series that looks at people who become obsessed with dangerous animals, bring them into their house, and then get surprised when the animals attack and kill them…all through hokey re-enactments with out of work actors.
It’s a funny show but there was one episode that really got to me: the one with the chimpanzees. In that episode, they did a re-enactment of the women whose chimp went crazy and attacked and killed her friend and then ate her face. You will never look at a chimp the same way once you hear the 911 call in which the woman locks herself in the car, after smacking the chimp around the head with a shovel, screaming “IT’S EATING HER FACE!!! IT’S EATING HER FACE!!!!” into the phone. All the while, the chimp is banging on the car door, trying to get at the sweet human flesh inside. Those animals are fucking nasty which is why I decided to watch Congo. I was curious to see if the film presented apes in an adorable fashion like in Dunston Checks In or if it told the truth that they are in fact violent bastards with a taste for human flesh and eyeballs.
Turns out that the film does a little of both. On the one hand you have “Amy,” the twisted lab experiment. This is a gorilla who acts like a five year old who’s just done a bong rip. She knows sign language and drinks martinis on airplanes….also she does actually smoke a joint in one scene after it is handed to her by Ernie Hudson who is playing a British hunter/adventurer/all-around panty-dropper. Even Laura Linney starts to get the jungle fever, if you catch my drift. On the other hand, you have the wild gorillas and the (fictional) white apes who are mining diamonds…for some reason. These are the violent ones and I appreciate that the film makers showed that apes aren’t puppy dogs longing for human affection. However, it’s so irresponsible to suggest that these animals can be trained (in sign language no less) and I pray for anyone who has watched this film and seriously considered getting a monkey as a pet.
I should point out that this is about as “Michael Crichton” as a film can possibly get. I’ve read the Jurassic Park novel and it’s enjoyable but Spielberg really did a great job at translating the book into an amazing piece of cinema and editing out a lot the crazy. In Congo, less effort was made to tone down some of the more fantastical elements. This is a film in which Laura Linney fires a flare gun out of a plane to distract heat-seeking missiles and also fires a laser-diamond gun at the white apes while joking about how she’s just put them on the endangered species list. You know something Laura? You DID just put an entire species on the endangered species list. Why are you making jokes about it? Sure, they were evil animals but now you’ve altered Africa’s biodiversity…..so thanks for that.
- The alcoholic stoner gorilla.
- Ernie Hudson manages to play British quite well. His accent isn’t spot on but I feel as though he managed to adopt the persona of a Brit quite well: intelligent, witty, brave, and fascinated by nature. The writer hit the nail on the head when the Americans complain about the jungle noises while Hudson just sits there listening to it all while enjoying a smoke. I think most Brits would do that, perhaps while enjoying a gin and tonic, the drink of the empire!
- The hilarity of the low-budget white apes! You can see the edges of the masks.
- Tim Curry as some sort of villainous Eastern European. I won’t ruin the ending by telling you what happens to him but, suffice it to say, it will force you to cry with laughter.
- The ancient city is called the city of minge or something that sounds a lot like that. It got a childish giggle out of me.
- Laura Linney causing mass extinction and using generic science jargon incorrectly. Oh well, I can forgive her: she’s Mary Ann Singleton after all.
This is easily one of the dumbest movies I have seen in a long time and, in all honesty, it was brilliant! If you try to watch it seriously, it will require an impossible amount of intelligence suspension. It’s much better to come into Congo expecting a train crash of epic proportions, because that’s what it is. It’s just one of those films you have to point and laugh at. That’s why this film has become one of my new guilty favourites.