|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Index||17 reviews in total|
Am I going to say this is a fantastic movie or high art? Of course not. However, over the years a sort of lore has emerged that is WAY OUT OF PROPORTION to the quality of the movie. Mostly because of Johhny Carson's repeated jokes at the expense of the movie during the Reagan years, people have incorrectly assumed it is a bad flick and that is far from true! It is, in fact, a cute family movie that's amazingly good for what it is. The story is very simple and engaging despite it being a chimp movie. A professor (Reagan) wants to show that people are a product of their upbringing not genetics. This is because the professor's father was a criminal and he desperately wants to prove that goodness is a learned choice, not pre-determined. He gets the idea to bring a chimp into his home and try to teach him right from wrong BUT because he is just a single man, he hires a woman (Diana Lynn) to pose as the mommy and he becomes Bonzo's surrogate dad. It's actually quite well-made fluff, and the President had no reason to be ashamed of this movie (though there were several films that I would argue might have brought him SOME shame).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not every movie in Ronald Reagan's career was KING'S ROW; KNUTE ROCKNE;
THE HASTY HEART; THE VOICE OF THE TURTLE; or SANTA-FE TRAIL. Some were
worthy films where his roles were not too memorable or central: BOY
MEETS GIRL (starring James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, and Ralph Bellamy);
DARK VICTORY (with Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald,
and George Brent); and LOUISE (with Spring Byington, Charles Coburn,
and Edmund Gwenn).
But BEDTIME FOR BONZO got an unfair spin on his film reputation. Reagan was not a great thespian. He was above average as a film actor. But here he was co-starred with Bonzo the Chimp and that was too good a subject for political foes to overlook. I think the first one to use the Chimp as a weapon against Reagan was Johnny Carson, especially since Fred De Cordoba (his producer) was also the producer of BEDTIME FOR BONZO.
Yet the unfairness of this is that the film is better than the fact that Reagan was playing with a chimp. Reagan's co-star is not Bonzo, but Diane Lynn and Walter Slezak (in one of his nice, comic parts). Reagan wants to marry Lynn, but her father is upset (and snobbish) about Regan's father being a criminal. He is afraid of the potential genetic effect on his descendants. Reagan gets involved in taking care of Bonzo in order to demonstrate that he's a good father, and that nurturing and a loving environment can overcome genetic defects. Bonzo is one of the college chimps used by the science labs, and so Slezak is involved (as a comic caricature of Albert Einstein).
Believe it or not, BEDTIME FOR BONZO is actually a film about a debate on education, genetics, and emotional stability. Oddly enough another more popular comedy is similar to this too. TRADING PLACES has a similar question concerning changing the social places and classes of Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy in that $1.00 bet between Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche.
BEDTIME FOR BONZO's screenplay suggests that nurturing works. It is a simple little comedy, with Reagan's problems being directly caused by Bonzo or as a result of complications due to having to care for Bonzo. It is pleasant fluff, but it is curious that it has such a scientific/philosophical question in the background. Reagan must have had an idea of it's worth as a film as much as the public did. He said that he thought the script for BEDTIME FOR BONZO was a decent one, but the sequel (BONZO GOES TO COLLEGE) was a silly one, so he would not do that film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
OK OK....so this film isn't Citizen Kane! But it is definitely worth watching, even if it is just to see President Reagan acting with a chimp. The story is basic- a professor tries to teach a monkey the difference between right and wrong to prove the dean of the college is wrong about hereditary traits. He decides to become the chimp's "Poppa" and hires a pretty young maid to be the "Momma." Basic plot? Yes. Predictable? Yes. Worth the watch? YES! Ronald Reagan was SOOO underrated as an actor, and this shows off his skills, even though it's not King's Row. My favorite scene is the breakfast scene where Prof. Boyd and Jane are trying to act like parents, and the Prof. calls Jane his "little chicken." I also like it when Hans calls the Prof. a "Dummkopf" (German for "stupid head.) The only thing I wish was different was that Jane would fall out of the tree, and Peter would catch her, maybe with his fiancée watching! 8/10
I found this to be a rather cute comedy, which has gotten a bit of a strange reputation owing to the fact that the "Gipper" plays an unusual role. But Reagan does play comedy well (it's unfortunate that he didn't make more comedies in his day), and Walter Slezak is amusing in a nice, if a bit stereotypical kind of part as his German professor/mentor.
Sure, it's a bit corny and "preachy" by today's standards, but when I watched it for the first time, I was somewhat impressed. When taken in the context of it's time (the early fifties), it stands up fairly well. Ronald Reagan was a better actor than he is given credit for by many people.
Are we a product of our surroundings or are we born the way we are
going to be? This issue is the driving force behind this intelligent
and thought-provoking film that delves into what other films only think
Okay, now really. If you want a pleasant, family-oriented fun little film, then this is for you. Been made fun of as one of Reagan's bombs, it's not nearly as bad as it might sound.
When a university professor is judged for his father's criminal tendencies, he is insulted and proceeds to conduct an experiment with Bonzo, the college lab "mascot" to see if a chimp can be taught right and wrong. Diana Lynn (from Martin & Lewis' "My Friend Irma" and "You're Never Too Young") is perfect as the "nanny" hired to help out with Bonzo. Reagan is engaged to the dean's daughter, but well, you can guess the rest. So, sit back and let Bonzo swing from tree to tree and forget your troubles.
There has been a lot of negative stuff over the years about this film... It really is much funnier than you might expect...And a lot of it is done with an ironic tongue in cheek...If you decide to see it...Do so with an open mind! Ronald Reagan is more than competent in his leading role...A rather interesting accomplishment when you consider he had to play opposite a Chimp! At times the production values do leave a bit to be desired, but then, you could make the same comment about a LOT of films that are over 60 years old! It's not the most original film in the history of the cinema...But it certainly is much better than most!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The filmmaker is quite visionary and prophetic even in casting a future president and the ancestor of a future president in this movie. The stark contrast of Ronald Reagan who would lead the nation to greatness only to have it all thrown away by the progeny of his costar is a cinematic achievement. The film is a dire warning of the folly of the modern welfare state. No matter what we do chimps will still not be able to function in society without a guiding human hand. That little guy sure is cute though or so it would seem to the untrained eye. Chimps can actually be quite savage. Far to many humans have been mauled and killed by these creatures. In the end they have a homeland to which they are better suited and should have remained.
Does anyone see the irony of this film and how it can easily be compared to Barack Obama? I am positive the lab chimp in this movie IS Barack Obama, yes the chimp seemed to evolve a little quicker than most apes but the resemblance is uncanny you got to admit! The film also depicts the nature of the caring caucasian wanting to help others and pass knowledge, and of course the nature of the chimp to mimic human behavior EXACTLY like Barack Obama's African ancestors in which modern day africans and African Americans still show these traits to this day! And how else would a primate be elected into office without mimicking behavior that of the great Ronald Regan himself!? Wow folks this film is a MUST see!
When Ronald Reagan, B picture actor became the 40th president of the
United States on the way there he took a lot of criticism about his
former profession as thespian. He always preferred his identification
with the motion picture industry to be symbolized by playing George
Gipp in Knute Rockne, All American. His supporters always referred to
him as the Gipper. But his detractors always used Bedtime For Bonzo as
the quintessential Reagan film.
It's both the title and the fact that Reagan is playing second fiddle to a young chimpanzee in the film that seem to resonate. Professors Reagan and Walter Slezak are conducting experiments as to just how close are the chimpanzees to man on the evolutionary scale. Reagan takes Bonzo home to live with him and treats him like a child and not a pet. For said experiment Bonzo needs a mother and Diana Lynn answers an advertisement for a chimp's mom.
It works out well on the scientific end, but plays havoc with Reagan's love life as he's slightly engaged to Lucille Barkley, daughter of college dean, Herbert Hayes. And Hayes just got an offer from Yale for Bonzo, but neither Reagan or Lynn want to part with him.
As a pet owner I can understand that, but the film does try to sell the point of view that Bonzo is more than a pet. That's a bit much for me to swallow.
Still Bedtime For Bonzo is an innocuous and pleasant comedy and could probably be remade today. Can you see Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie being Bonzo's parents?
|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|