This is a fact based story about a socialite and her husband who live in a mansion with a brood of animals including chimpanzees who are raised as her children. When she discovers an ailing baby gorilla, she decides to care for it as well. Years later, the gorilla is fully grown and its strength is sometimes out of control. However, the gorilla shows love for his mistress and obeys her commands. That all changes when she is invited to display the gorilla and chimps at the Chicago World's Fair. Accidentally freed by one of the chimps, the gorilla terrorizes the Fair. From that point on, he becomes moody and more uncontrollable until he attacks his mistress in a bestial rage. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
My Take: More proof that decent special effects and pretty sets can't tell the story.
BUDDY is the film that BABE could have easily been, but while that harmless, little achievement took to a different direction (and succeeded as a great, little film), BUDDY takes off on the wrong track. The story elements are easily predictable, but that's rarely the worst part since the film, despite some imagination and style which went into the production design, the story drags on. It's dully paced and slow-moving, it's pretty hard to care for a somewhat interesting character (a domesticated ape, no less).
Rene Russo plays, and is actually fine as, eccentric wealthy animal lover Gertrude Lintz, who adopts all sorts of animals, chimpanzees mostly, and grooms them into civilized beings, dressing them up and teaches them to walk upright and eat on a table (with a spoon and fork, no less). Alongside her and her menagerie of trained (and well-dressed) apes is her husband (Robbie Coltrane), a helpful maid (Irma P. Hall) and her assistant (Alan Cumming). But when she decides to adopt a harmless orphaned gorilla, her confidence is slowly loosing as Buddy, as groomed and as attentive an animal he is, he's still an animal.
Russo and co., thankfully given some decent roles, are actually good, and the ape (cheesy as ape suits are today) is pretty endearing. But unlike BABE, the focus pitched on the animals are pretty tedious. This time, I think, giving the animals the gift of speech is a welcome asset. Director Caroline Thompson seemed to be distracted by the overall look of the film (the production design, from costumes to sets, are spontaneously elaborate) to strongly develop the script. The story lags a long in a drowsy, monotonous pace that could even put a few children to sleep.
What could have been an eagerly acceptable fantasy with touches of engaging tragedy is an elaborate and fancy bore. BUDDY isn't a failure, but it fails more than it succeeds. At best, it's a promise that never really got off the ground.
Rating: **1/2 out of 5.
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