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Cute Disney film - the title sequence with Annette Funicello and the Beach
Boys (who seemed to me to be on the verge of cracking up laughing the
time) is worthwhile in and of itself. Check out Dennis Wilson's "Funky
Monkey" dance since he's not singing.
Anyway, this is a breed of film I wish they still made - goofy but not really stupid, a cute teenager comedy with a little innocent flirtation here and there, some very pre-PC dialogue, and a monkey who disappears from middle 3/4 of the movie. Some continuity problems, but hey, if you're looking for great cinema you shouldn't be looking at a film called "The Monkey's Uncle".
If you're into chimp films (and if so, I really don't want to hear about it) and you rented this one expecting to see a lot of monkey, you will be frustrated. On the other hand, if you think Annette Funicello was hot, this is your kinda flick. "Lost In Space" fans will also enjoy seeing Mark Goddard as the BMOC.
Otherwise, it's a cute little film to watch with young kids or by yourself when you're busting out code at home at 3 AM and it's either "The Monkey's Uncle" or an infomercial.
Say what you will about Walt Disney's silly suburban comedies of the 1960s, they at least LOOKED good. Walt always ensured a decent production and usually threw in some nifty visual effects for the fun of it. The exception is "The Monkey's Uncle". After a spunky start with Annette Funicello singing on-stage with The Beach Boys, this movie settles into Sitcom-ville with tired results. Worse, it looks terrible, with flimsy walls that are supposed to pass as sets and terrible use of color photography. Rarely have I seen a movie that looked so bad, with lots of yellow meringue and pea-green curtains and costumes. Having enjoyed "The Misadventures Of Merlin Jones" for what it was, I expected Disney to up the fun-quotient with this sequel, but it's a real snooze. *1/2 from ****
Several of the cast members of The Misadventures Of Merlin Jones made
the return trip for the sequel The Monkey's Uncle. The critics
including me panned this one too, but it did well at the box office.
But the trip back was bittersweet for Tommy Kirk.
It was while that first film was being made that Walt Disney discovered that his teen star Tommy Kirk was gay and terminated him forthwith. But the film made money for the Magic Kingdom and Kirk came back to do this sequel. It must have been one strained set and I'm sure Kirk who wasn't getting job offers piling up needed the money. You have to hand it to Walt Disney for chutzpah.
This one was equally as bad as the first. First Kirk as the science genius devises a sleep study program so that the football team can pass their exams to be eligible. For the second half of the film he's given a challenge by Leon Ames of the board of trustees to develop a method of man made flight under manpower, no motors or airships.
It's do or die for Tommy because another member of the board of trustees of Midvale College, Frank Faylen has got a check in hand for a million dollars if they ban football. Kirk has school spirit and he's the only one smart enough to take on the task.
He's also got the help of Annette Funicello and there's a rival to her in Cheryl Miller of Daktari who babysits Stanley the Chimpanzee for Kirk.
If this all sounds ridiculous that ain't the half of it. All this plot comes about because Kirk and Annette want to adopt Stanley because Kirk is convinced he can get a college education. The chimp that is.
The best part of the film is the beginning when Annette sings the title song accompanied by The Beach Boys. I'm sure Disney would have kept Kirk around if a third film was in the offing. Poor Tommy Kirk one of the saddest stories about gay actors ever from Tinseltown.
It seems that it would have been good as a series because yes it's true that the movie seems to have two different plots but with an underlying plot to save football at Midvale College and Merlin Jones is the one to do it! I like this movie, I guess it brings back childhood memories. The first part of the movie, Merlin adopts a chimpanzee and has a girlfriend Jennifer. Some of the football players won't be able to play if they fail a test. So , Merlin decided to help by experimenting with sleep learning. The next part of the movie, Merlin is confronted with the task to create man-powered flight. He may or may not succeed...Cute movie with good actors. It's like the movies, babes in toyland, child of glass, and other oldies that my mom used to have us watch over and over again since we didn't have cable!
'The Monkey's Uncle' is the sequel to 'The Misadventures of Merlin
Jones'. I have not yet re-watched this classic Disney comedy. Have I
ever seen it? 'The Monkey's Uncle' is only available on VHS. The only
place you can rent VHS nowadays is at the local library. If you're
persistent enough you can find many VHS only movies at the local
library. The first film is available on DVD and on Netflix but I
couldn't find it at my local library and I don't yet have Netflix. So I
watched the 2nd one first.
It's a very good and decent OK film. There is nothing outstandingly funny and memorable but there is nothing outstandingly bad worth mentioning either. The monkey in the title does play a central role in the movie but not as central as the title may suggest.
After opening up with the Annette Funicello (who just goes by Annette in the credits) and the Beach Boys, the film centers on Genius boy Merlin Jones. After becoming the Monkey's Uncle in a court hearing he then uses the chimp for scientific experiments. He plays records while the chimp is sleeping and when he wakes up, he thus is able to do what was instructed to him while he slept. Merlin uses this method for some football players to learn English while they sleep so they can pass the big English Test. It is an honest way to cheat.
The 2nd half of the film focuses on Merlin trying to invent a man-made flying machine. If he does his school will get a generous donation from some guy for 10 million dollars. Through the picture is a rivalry between two members of the college faculty which figures very significantly into both plots. One wants to abolish football because he was once rejected from the team and the other wants to keep it, thus relying on Merlin to always save the day.
There are some funny moments and gags. The ending is actually very good compared to the whole movie. It raises the film up a notch. It's an amusing film. Not worth avoiding and worth seeing if you're a Disney enthusiast. It's not on VHS (I think). Is it worth being on DVD? Well there are other Disney films that aren't great that are on DVD and for the sake of completion perhaps it should be. Put Merlin on the job to figure out how.
It is incredible that this hopeless mess of a movie was Robert Stevenson's follow-up to Mary Poppins! It is episodic to the point of incoherence, the 'monkey' of the title (actually a chimp, of course) barely appears, Annette's charm was wearing thin, and the sets, music and general production level are poor indeed. Tommy Kirk appears to be barely awake throughout much of the film; he was probably wondering why he ever signed that long-term contract with Uncle Walt. Worse is seeing Arthur O'Connell, Leon Ames and other dependable character actors flailing away with what must be one of the worst scripts ever churned out by Disney. This is another of those pictures that gave 'family films' a bad name. Of minor cultural interest is the appearance of the Beach Boys, who function as a back-up band for Annette during the opening credits! They then disappear and are never seen again another example of the filmmakers' total lack of interest in anything that might sustain interest from beginning to end.
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