Human Nature (2001) Poster

(2001)

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10/10
Oh Come On, this one is great
Igor Akeliev1 July 2006
I don't know what's happening with the votes on this movie. It IS really great. May be people just get offended by lots of nudity in this picture? Why to bother? It's VERY thought-provoking, extremely smart, funny and in a same way sad. I prefer it over Eternal Sunshine sometimes. Really great story about how hopeless we all are. A bit farce, a bit comedy, and great philosophical meaning. Why don't we live in forests? Why don't we try to be free? Why do we live in this world of steel and plastic? Just think about what questions do Kaufman movie rise.

Being John Malkovich .. is pretty shallow, not strong work. I still adore it, but it's worst Kaufmans work for me, though it's extremely original.

Adaptation brings out greatest thoughts about movie-making, about human relations, about creativity and Hollywood, about mainstream and real art. And the funny thing Adaptation even mocks about itself. Great script.

Eternal Sunshine is mainly about love, destiny and memories. Nothing else there. Though i have to admit it's a perfect script.

Human Nature is an anti-human, Greenpeace-pro movie... till the very end. It mocks humanity sometimes, but mostly talks about how self-important we are, how ungracious to the nature around us. But the end ... Well, wont write spoilers here.

This movie is a skeptical answer for all those hopeless romantics out there. And i think it's a great symbiotic relationship. Romance and skepticism.
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Wonderful, but not everyone's cup of tea.
mgressma5 April 2002
Finally, a definitive answer to the question, "What is human nature?" Actually, "Human Nature" is not the answer to that question, but it does address other issues, one of which is the nature of comedy. Many, if not most, people who see "Human Nature" will not care for it. I was going to say "not get it", but that is condescending. I think "Human Nature" is a hilarious comedy. It's extreme adsurdity makes it so. It combines elements of Pygmalion, Frankenstein and Tarzan into a wonderful, modern day farce. The story is about a love rectangle formed by Nathan Bronfman (Robbins), Lila Jute (Arquettte), Puff (Ifans), and Gabrielle (Otto). Nathan and Gabrielle are somewhat normal (as normal as two scientists can be), but Lila and Puff are a bit off center. She has a problem with body hair which covers her whole body, and Puff, was raised in the wild by his father, who thought he was a gorilla. The story is told through flashback by the dead Nathan, the testifying Puff, and the arrested Lila. Wonderfully done. The one question I had throughout was how Puff came to be testifying in front of congress. The answer was so pat and contrived it was funny. My advice is, go see this movie with 4 or 5 friends, and try and predict which one of you will like it. The rest will hate it.
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10/10
it's nice to see a movie that raises philosophical questions
Eli-1813 April 2002
'Human Nature' will inevitably be reviewed in comparison to 'Being John Malkovich', and the comments will be along the lines of 'less coherent', 'not likely to be as commercially successful', etc. But should these be reasons to NOT see this movie? Only if you want to miss the most intelligent movie to come out since BJM. Forget 'A Beautiful Mind', which gives the appearance of intelligence by flaunting pseudo-guru math, but was just another sappy tale of 'the triumph of the human spirit'.

What makes 'Human Nature' and BJM a cut above the usual cinema drivel, is that they actually attempt to get into some serious philosophical issues. BJM delves into personal identity, while 'Human Nature' digs even deeper into the realm of our underlying... human nature. What makes human nature any better than animal nature? civilization? language? manners? And do these distinctly human features actually make us better, or just different, or different in a bad way... i.e. by making us lead dual lives, tearing our originally united being into inharmonious halves (subjective/objective)? And can we simply unite our duplicitousness by forgetting language, civilization, and manners... by returning to nature? Or, with a philosopher who gets an intensional nod in 'Human Nature', Wittgenstein, are we stuck in language, forever banished from the garden of eden?

This movie raised all of these questions, and more, for me... which is what I expect out of a good movie: not only does it entertain us, but it invites us to join in the entertaining. By posing these questions, it challenges us to answer them, and to ask our own questions of it... which means that we have to see it again in order for it to continue the dialogue. Now that's what I call interactive movie-going. Philosophy has started some great stuff in history: religion, government, science. So I think that's its not asking too much for movies to engage in philosophical debates and trying to include the audience, rather than thinking of the audience as fodder for the box office.
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7/10
Just say bonobo...
ThurstonHunger7 December 2003
I read the IMDB reviews on this two nights ago, and decided not to rent this film. But then as if by coincidence, the next night I noticed it was on cable currently, so I taped it.

And I'm glad I did.

It seems some reviewers lament the lack of a message in this, I can appreciate such weighty films, hey I enjoyed the "Whale Rider," but such films often reduce down simply to hackneyed sententia. I'm kinda afraid life does as well...but this ain't the forum for that chat.

Charlie Kaufmann seems to specialize in *mixed* message films. I enjoy them as I enjoy a puzzle. They are thought-provoking both in theme and in details (don't know about you, but I had to look up Franz Kline...)

Other reviewers lament the onanism going on (or should that be down). To me, "Adaptation" was a whole lot more masturbatory, this has an easier-to-follow plot. The humor rises more quickly to the surface...and yes I did chuckle at times.

No one so far has voiced concern over this being a film that reflects back from the start. It is done deftly; although I know some people dislike that as a device.

There are several nice film tricks. A circular beginning/ending, Robbins clearly being in a closed afterworld, and nods to other films...Bambi, Tarzan, Frankenstein, Sophie's Choice... ;> No, I'm forgetting another real one. I'm not that familiar with the director's MTV exploits, but I'll rent that collection sooner or later.

No one here yet has mentioned Young Frankenstein (which I see as more of a prototype than Pygmalion...or even Oedipus Rex.) But there are some serious questions being posed. Less these days than in the 70's do we get pitched an idyllic ideal; one wherein if man were stripped of his modern trappings, social strictures, political oppression and other garb, would we find a purer being? Isn't that also an element of Marx/Hegelism?

Kaufmann weaves a new sort of unibrow...uniting the high and the low.

There are other more universal moments here. Arquette struggling not to care what others think about her. Robbins trying to chose between the sweet girlfriend and the saucy seductress, between his heart and his...

Ahem, still there's much more here than what I fear is found in "Me and Him." Libido is a prime mover...whether subjugated or conjugal.

I'm having a hard time wrapping this up...is it a film that states that human nature is deceitful (all of four main characters are in at least one charade)?

Again, I'm glad I rented it. I've got to get better at cross-referencing other reviewers when reading posts here. I think Kaufmann is a very gifted, and very conflicted guy.

7/10
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10/10
Charlie Kaufman does it again!
Rogue-3215 April 2002
As he managed to do in Being John Malkovich, brilliant writer Kaufman succeeds in creating a completely believable alternative reality, which he employs as a metaphor that pokes seemingly light (and therefore lethally subversive) fun at 'society' - what it means to be civilized, what it means to be free, how people judge each other based on ridiculously superficial differences of appearance, etc, etc. It works, because Kaufman IS so brilliant, and I left the theatre with the same feeling I had gotten from Being John Malkovich - inspired and gratified that someone like this not only exists in the world but actually gets to put his completely unique and uncompromising visions on the screen.
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Nature Is Entertaining.
mesmorizedmind15 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

I've been watching a lot of movies and this movie is kind of like a snack in between the really hard hitting movies. As that, it's really entertaining, at times insightful, and fun to watch. Some people may have gone into watching this expecting a straight comedy, and perhaps that is the reason they were disappointed. The movie is satiric, and only at certain times is the comedy blatant and obvious (some people call this gross-out humor). I found the idea of Arquette's character Lila having hair all over her body as a bit uncouth, but the filmmakers are trying to make a point about the superficialities that is part of being human.

Acknowledging the title, I expected a mock of what we humans hold dear as our essence, and I got just that. The movie should not be discredited because the philosophical aspect of nature versus nurture is on the light side. I think Human Nature has some good insights that everyone can walk away with. As humans in a civilized society, we have to conform to the norm and follow rules. We have to restrain our hormonal pressures for sex and the like. Isn't it argued by some that the sole purpose of life is to reproduce? That idea is a bit crude and cold, and most of us don't like to think of it like that.

We used to be in touch with nature when we were first born, but after being indoctrinated into societal culture and behavior, we lost our nature. This dehumanization of our essence is essentially what we hold to be human, as ironic as that is. Man is a rational animal as Aristotle said. Would we be rational if weren't taught to be? Are we at all times rational in this civilized society? Aren't people still fighting over trivial things? Are we any smarter now than we were two thousand years ago? Although not explicitly in the movie, these sorts of thoughts is what the movie is essentially bringing up.

One of the funniest scenes in the movie was when Puff (Rhys Ifans) is shown a slide of a naked woman on a projector and he instinctively lunges at the picture trying to 'get some.' I am reminded of a similar scene, with different ends, in Clockwork Orange. Nathan (Tim Robbins) has to shock him several times before he learns to contain his sexual urges. I found all of the scenes trying to teach Puff to be a sophisticated person hilarious, including the scene where he whispers to a manakin from a fake balcony watching a non-existent opera. Miranda Otto playing the assistant of Nathan, Gabrielle, was funny with her fake French accent and mannerisms.

Nathan's parents were equally funny teaching their adopted six-year old son Wayne table manners. At one point, Nathan says, "Mother please tell Wayne not to hit on my girlfriend." I liked when Puff's father goes berserk and ape-like when he sees the newspaper headlines saying "Kennedy Assassinated." I found it interesting to see Nathan sitting in what we assume is purgatory telling his story and asking if he is going to heaven or hell, or if he would have to tell his tale again. *SPOILER - The ending is hilarious when Puff gets together with Gabrielle after pretending to go back to nature. /*SPOILER

Overall, this is a good movie. Human Nature is funny, original, and has a message to give to the viewers. The film manages to pack all of this in 96 minutes, good for those of you with short attention spans. Forget Charlie Kaufman wrote the screenplay because that will create expectations too big for this movie to handle. This is a sleeper that everyone should check out.
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10/10
beauty is desire is suffering is beauty
Doug Galecawitz24 August 2004
This may be one of the most undereatimated movies on the imdb. Trumped only by it's more popular cousin Adaptation, this movie in the best that film language has to offer express all the joy, sorrow, misery, agony, torment, ennui, sillyness, and boozy lust of being a biologacal creature in a social super structure. I love this movie. I love how it translates the dry language psychological philosophy into an entertaining movie that is both emotional heavy and light heartedly funny. Rhys Ifans is absolutely wonderful in his portayal of the apotheosis of the destructive nature of language on human emotion. As with adaptation I just can't say enough about this movie. They seem so intelligent and full of joy that Charlie Kaufman is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers in hollywood along with Linklater and Tarantino.

10 out of 10 i'm drunk
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4/10
Puts the id into idiocy
Framescourer24 February 2008
A modern screwball comedy that takes in everything from My Fair Lady to Greystoke whilst nodding askance at the corporeal British humour of Benny Hill. It can be a bit patchy and hangs together by virtue of a good cast. Rhys Ifans, reasonably fresh from doing a similarly oafish turn in Notting Hill plays a Tarzan-Adam opposite Patricia Arquette pushed into being an Eve-wannabe by virtue of excessive and socially proscriptive bodyhair. Both are game for taking their clothes off a great deal and in the most unflattering circumstances. Binding them together is a well-judged Tim Robbins. The relationships between the three are scrambled by a fourth, an urbane, conniving lab assistant to Robbins played by Miranda Otto with a 'faked' French accent (that knocks the socks off whatever Rhys Ifans is attempting). The argument for and against civilisation is played out in the sub plots like a complicated Mexican stand-off and the end is a good example of survival of the fittest. Harmless but misses its target. 4/10
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6/10
Odd little story from Kaufman
rosscinema24 June 2003
This is further proof that writer Charlie Kaufman is probably the most unique writer in show business and he's developing into quite the cult figure. This odd story is about a woman named Lila (Patricia Arquette) who's body is covered with hair and at the age of 20 she retreats into the wilderness to hide and she writes nature books to make ends meet. But after some time she decides to leave and get electro-dialysis because she gets horny. Her friend hooks her up with a shy and repressed scientist named Nathan (Tim Robbins) and they hit it off. Then while on a nature walk they discover a man (Rhys Ifans) living in the wilderness who thinks he's an ape. They take him back to Nathan's lab where he is going to teach him to be human. Only Kaufman could come up with such a ridiculous story and make it redeemable. The film is directed by Michel Gondry who is known for directing several of Bjorks videos and he makes his feature film debut here. I think the film works because Kaufman makes sure the viewer is not to take this seriously but at the same time the humor is not presented in an over the top way like some cheap attempt at laughs. The humor is more dry witted and it reminded me a little of something Albert Brooks might have thought of. Another thing I enjoyed was the performance of Arquette. She's the core of this film and it should remind everyone that she is able to carry a film by herself and that she's a very underrated actress. I've always been a big fan of hers and she's just not used in films enough. She does appear nude but she seems fine with it and she should, she looks great. The film wants to ask the question about sex and the difference between humans and animals and the environment we are all brought up in. When the film was over I wasn't sure what to make of it but once I found out that Charlie Kaufman wrote the script an immediate smile came across my face. Knowing he was behind this odd comedy seems to make all the sense in the world!
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9/10
The Wayward-ness of Humankind
jazzpiano-13 April 2007
'Human Nature' is a completely underrated feature, intelligently written by Charlie Kaufman and soundly directed by Michel Gondry in his feature film debut. 'Human Nature' suffered from high expectations - after 'Being John Malkovich' everybody expected another brain-bending masterpiece, and instead received a subtle, wry and quietly philosophical comedy, open to all kinds of interpretation and featuring beautiful, under-appreciated performances from Patricia Arquette, Tim Robbins and Rhys Ifans.

Lila Jute (Patricia Arquette) suffers from a hormonal problem that causes hair to grow all over her body, which first appeared in her pre-teens. Convinced by her mother that she would never get a man, Lila went to live in the woods among the animals, and become a nature writer. The books were successful, and in her new found fame, Lila could afford to become "a hairless lie"; to get electrolysis. Through Louise, who performs the electrolysis, Lila meets Dr. Nathan Bronfman, a bespectacled manners-obsessed virgin and scientist, currently working on a "large sociological project" involving mice. Lila and Nathan are immediately attracted to each other, and are soon living together. One day, on a hike in the woods, the pair discover a human raised by a man who thought he was an ape, completely uncontaminated by civilisation. Nathan decides the man needs to experience civilisation ("Never to know the love of a good woman or appreciate the complex works of Moby Dick or marvel at Monet?"), and decides to 'save' him, by teaching him manners and decorum.

What results from the oddball plot is a hilarious and occasionally touching investigation into human nature, that doesn't just come right out and say, "Humans are deceitful and always will be!" or the like, but leaves it up to you to decide.

Patricia Arquette gives a sincere performance, and provides the most touching moments in the film. She shows incredible range in this film; from her naive desire to please Nathan by becoming a "real girl", wearing pink, painting her nails and taking up ballet, to becoming a warrior. Lila is vulnerable when she is with Nathan, but she transforms herself (with the help of Louise) and becomes strong and confident.

Tim Robbins is convincing as a bordering obsessive compulsive, and shows great comedic timing in the first few scenes with Patricia Arquette. It was an interesting choice to have Tim Robbins talk about his actions in retrospect, and then see him act them out with pure selfishness and inability to control his lusting.

Rhys Ifan's performance as Puff is the same standard as Arquette's. He demonstrates a large range; from an 'ape' to the apex of 'refinement'. There is one scene in particular, where footage of Puff as an 'ape' is shown, while the reformed Puff stands calmly as it plays, knowingly, in a very civilised suit.

'Human Nature' is a bit of a mixed bag film - it even morphs into a musical for a moment near the beginning, in a song sung by Patricia Arquette herself (what a beautiful, restrained voice!). Sometimes it's surreal, as with the scene I mentioned in the last paragraph. The humour in the film is mostly created by scenes where the flaws of humankind are exposed - our indifference, how we pretend to be something we're not, how we like to separate ourselves from nature even though that's where we came from, before civilisation.

I love the open-endedness of this film! It is the best thing about it. Also, I enjoyed Gondry's sneaky references to Bjork's 'Human Behaviour' video clip.
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8/10
I agree: let's go back to our roots!
Lee Eisenberg4 August 2006
Looking back on it, "Human Nature" sort of reminds me of "I Shot Andy Warhol", the way we slowly but surely get exposed to a gritty (but somewhat funny) topic. In this case, a man (Rhys Ifans) raised in the wild is getting interviewed by a congressional committee about why he murdered a scientist (Tim Robbins). But overall, the movie poses the question of what separates humans from animals. And after everything that the movie shows, you'll probably agree with what Ifans's character says about everything. As for Robbins's character's setting, it definitely looks like something that would please Jean-Paul Sartre. This movie's probably not for everyone, but I think that it's worth seeing. Also starring Patricia Arquette, Hilary Duff, Peter Dinklage, Mary Kay Place and Robert Forster.

Yeah, words are kinda evil...
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8/10
Two Words - Totally Under-rated
Balaji Murugesan22 April 2005
I saw this movie on TV and was pleasantly pleased. It turned out better than what I had expected. The best thing about the movie is the story. Its all about human nature of sorts, About thing that people do and choices they make given the circumstances.

All the actors fit their respective roles. Especially Rhys Ifans as Puff and Patricia Arquette as Lila. But unlike other movies there is never any breakthrough or memorable scene that one might later remember. The whole movie seems to be one single continuous piece but one doesn't realize that until after the movie.

I don't think that this movie also fits any particular genre. Even though it is set as a comedy, all the humor is too suttle to be branded as genuine comedy. I don't know what genre it is, all I know I that is good.

So, If you wouldn't fancy any particular genre of movies but want to watch a movie that will not make sad, angry or too confused about the plot and so on, Watch this.
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Natural Black Comedy
shierfilm12 September 2002
I loved this film. Everyone in it was sharp. It may be slow to build up in laughs, but I didn't mind one bit. The always great Arquette held it all in for me. Robbins was excellent, too. (as always- hey Tim, I want to see another directed feature from you!) Highly recommeded for fans of "intellectual" comedy. Some classic moments....
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A must-see for Americans
FairyMail5 March 2003
There are many different kinds of movies. This is one of a rare species: a film with a message. Other people might hear different morals when watching it, or none at all, which is okay, too. But to me, Charlie Kaufman wants to tell us "deprive an adolescent of his right to a natural sexual development and you create a violent outburst".

Director Michel Gondry presents you a satire. The comedic element comes from grotesque, which is a relief after the all too juvenile teen movies that pathetically try to generate laughter by gross embarrassment and over-emphasized sounds of rearward body functions.

Instead of telling the story of average parents struggling to deal with their teenage son, you will find a) a woman with excessive body hair (in my view representing all your everyday discontent with your true self), and b) a man with an obsessive compulsion to demand perfect table manners (which of course stands for the misuse of parental power to force his unfounded views onto his "son")

The adolescent in this film being troubled by his sexual awakening is not the usual cool, hip, handsome high-school kid that all the real cool, hip,... okay-looking high-school-kids don't want to identify with anyway. It's Puff (Rhys Ifans), a young man who was raised by a deranged father to believe that he is an ape. This brings him in a situation not totally unlike that of a (human) teenager: somehow like the other humans, but being told that he's all weird and that everything he knows is suddenly wrong and bad. Eager to learn and please, he tries his best to conform, but to "control", that is, to ignore and deny his sexual curiosity, is just asking too much and he is forced to resort to deception.

It always amazes me how we Americans keep wondering why we have about 200x more shooting deaths than (other) civilized countries. One reason can be seen in the ratings for this particular film. Europe: around 12 (France: PG), USA: R, for it's hard to spot nudity. This is ironic confirmation of what the film is trying to draw attention to: by demonizing Puff's sexuality and using violence to suppress it, both Nathan and Lila become guilty of creating violence in turn.

For viewers who find this to be what this movie is about, I strongly recommend Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine (Title 0310793 here on IMDB.com) only it is not so funny, because it's a documentary.
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10/10
worth watching
jean-no5 July 2002
Michel Gondry, the director, is one of the most creative image makers of the musical video scene. He made unforgetable things like Chemical Bros "how does it feel now", like Daft Punk "around the world", like Bjork's "human behavior" : each of his videos is a piece of art, with brand new inventions, exactly like Spike Jonze (who is also Sophia Coppolla's husband). So I expected very much of human nature, and what I got is about exactly enough, but not more : it is actually a good movie, with an interesting subject (what is the difference between a human and an animal ?), great images, it's a good remake of "Greystoke" too. Worth watching, so, but I'll wait for the next Michel Gondry movie, this one is just a very good sketch, Gondry can do much better. Courageous performances of the actors, specially the ones who had to run naked in the woods (not always with great skill, but maybe it was intended). In france this film was not age-rated : I would have rated it to over 12 years old because sex is one of the very explicit subjects of the movie (but there is no rude language or even no sex scene, it's just that children might not understand some things at all). The french DVD of Human Nature contains Tree great and rare videos of Gondry's band OUI-OUI(he used to be a drummer and his videos where so good that it became his job).
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10/10
Extremely funny
svensson-224 January 2003
This is an extremely funny movie, not only about culture versus nature, but also about over romantic views about "nature" as some ideal condition for human beings. I think the movie is like looking at the ongoing debates on sexism and biologism etc, in the distorting mirror. Michel Gondry has previously touched upon these matters in his brilliant music videos with Björk. But I guess, if you never have thought about these things, you might not be able to appreciate the quite intelligent irony in this movie.
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10/10
"Human Beha..er..Nature"
bjorgy200010 April 2002
The directorial film debut from Monsieur MICHEL GONDRY, renown music video director. His credits include over 50 breakthrough music videos for many avant-garde artists including BJORK. His film "Human Nature" is no less of an optical marvel. One can, in fact, see in his film the things we've come to love in his videos. (Anyone remember Bjork running through the forest in her Debut "Human Behavior" music video?) This heightened-reality HYPERDELIC flick is as keen as its primal subject--mankind. It narrates a tale of three primates all driven by one thing...SEX. The film is not trashy, but funny and clever. Great musical sequences. Not as breakthrough as "Being John Malkovich," I think Michel was playing it safe. It still is a humorous revival, a relief from patriotic propaganda, Disney and Spielberg re-releases, sentimental melotraumas, and weak cynical comedies.

"Be ready be ready to get confused..."
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7/10
A bizarre comedy from the warped mind of Charlie Kaufman
shades03313 April 2002
The latest movie from the warped mind of Being John Malkovich writer Charlie Kaufman is a romantic comedy, exploring the relationships between four individuals brought together by a series of tentative bonds.

The first character, introduced in a series of flashbacks, is Lila (Patricia Arquette), a hirsute girl who becomes an outcast from society due to her fur-covered body. She decides to live in the forest and become a nature writer, but eventually, she gets horny, so her electrolysist (played by Rosie Perez) sets her up with Dr. Nathan Bronfman, an anal and neurotic psychologist, played by Tim Robbins. Bronfman has his own set of issues after being raised by strict disciplinarian parents, and it's not surprising that he's a 35-year-old virgin, considering that his main area of study is trying to teach lab mice table manners. The two quickly fall in love and on a nature trip, they come across a man who has been raised in the wilds, not by a monkey, but by his human father who thinks that he is a monkey. This monkey man, played by Rhys Ifans, brings out Lila's more animalistic urges, but Nathan thinks that this is the key for taking his research to the next step. The newly dubbed "Puff" allows himself to be conditioned by Nathan, trying to please his newfound "father", by learning and acting more human.

Relative newcomer, Miranda Otto, plays Gabrielle, Nathan's manipulative "French" lab assistant, playing with the doctor's feelings to get whatever she wants from him. When Nathan finds out Lila's hairy secret, it horrifies him, driving him into Gabrielle's arms and creating a bizarre love rectangle between the four.

Kaufman once again gets a chance to see how far he can go with a number of strange premises and try to tie them together into a cohesive story. This time around, he is working with another video director making his first feature length film in Michel Gandry.

Frankly, Human Nature only has one or two jokes-neither as original as a portal into the head of John Malkovich-but they're funny enough to be stretched out and provide humorous fodder for the entire movie. It does take a little while to warm up to these characters and the situation though. Early in the movie, when a naked and hairy Lila starts parading through the forest singing a song that could have come right out of Disney's "Song of the South", you expect a very long and painful movie. But it gets better, and clearly, Rhys Ifans steals the movie, much like he did as Hugh Grant's roommate in Notting Hill. Some of the funnier scenes involve Puff's "training" to be more human, and the set-up just gets more and more outlandish. At one point, he is taught how to behave at the opera with a full opera box set constructed inside his cage. Imagine Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle singing "Puttin' on the Ritz" in Young Frankenstein to get some idea how funny this situation becomes as it progresses. Ifans alternates between being highly cultured and refined and being a horny, sex-crazed animal. This leads to all sorts of insane situations, where he tries but fails to control his urges, at one point humping a waitress in a classy restaurant. Eventually, he goes on a lecture tour, and the animalistic lovemaking of Nathan and Gabrielle in the next room, drives Puff to a lecherous life seeking out prostitutes. This allows Ifans to show off a darker side to the character, and he beautifully captures the pain suffered by a man-animal that can't decide which he would rather be. The characters are similar archetypes to those found in Being John Malkovich, as Tim Robbins plays John Cusack's hapless schmuck, Otto plays the Catherine Keener bitchy other woman role, and Arquette is the frumpy, spurned woman. Most of the second half of the movie shows how the four characters play a series of human mind games, as they try to feed their animal urges.

Tim Robbins plays his character a bit subtler then some of his past roles, but it works for the character. One of the other amusing schticks involves Nathan debunking his own shrink's theories on his problems--surely his chosen field of study couldn't have anything to do with his strict upbringing. His reaction to finding out that his parents have adopted a polite and well-mannered six-year-old is priceless.

It's fairly obvious that Otto is one of Australia's latest Nicole Kidman clones, as she has a similar mix of beauty and range of demeanor, being sweet one moment and sassy the next. While Gabrielle is a fairly minor role compared to the others, her next appearance will be in the second chapter of The Lord of the Rings.

Patricia Arquette is the weakest link in this equation. (Or is she the missing link?) She spends much of the movie naked or semi-clothed, but doing everything possible to be as unattractive and as unsexy as possible. If she isn't covered in hair from literally from head to toe, she is shaving her body hair, or she is bald, wearing a bad wig and acting psychotic. The concept of a hair-covered woman is a creep enough concept without Arquette's over-the-top performance.

The movie isn't as stylish as some of director Michel Gandry's videos, although the forest scenes hark back to one of his earliest works, which irony of ironies, was on Bjork's first video for the song, "Human Behavior".

Overall, Human Nature is a bizarre little movie that gets funnier as it goes along. The laughs come slow at first, but once Rhys Ifans takes center stage, the laughs are regular and hearty. It is a terrific exploration of what it is to be human and what it is to be an animal, and how hard it sometimes is to make the two ends meet. That said, if you're expecting this to be exactly like Being John Malkovich, then you may be disappointed, as this is an animal of another species.

Rating: 7 out of 10
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6/10
Charlie Kaufman can't write third acts
Alonso Duralde24 October 2001
Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman received a great deal of acclaim for his "Being John Malkovich" script, but while that film contained many quirky and inventive ideas, the plot fell apart in the third act, making for an ultimately unsatisfying experience. The same can be said for his second produced script, "Human Nature," which is chock-full of good ideas but ultimately unravels. Kaufman is clever and a jokester, he's just not much of a scenarist.

On the up side, there's a lovely performance by Patricia Arquette, who's not afraid of any of the many bizarre turns her character goes through, and director Michel Gondry (who has made terrific videos for Bjork and others) does the best that he can with the script. (Although those CG mice are pretty lame once they are set free.)

Not an unalloyed success, but some elements here definitely work. Too bad they don't all come through.
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A very crude, slow and unstructured journey
modamag4 July 2002
"Human Nature" is a comedy written by "Being John Malkovich's" Charlie Kaufman and it doesn't fail to carry the distinct aroma of his previous film. The film explores our so-called "primal urges" and our need to live naturally with deep consideration of those urges.

Patricia Arquette plays Lila Jute, a human naturist who has a little problem. She is suffering from a hormonal balance that causes her to be abnormally covered with body hair. While this does not pose much of a concern for her personally, it does for everyone else and more specifically, men. After getting fed up with the world, she decided to live in the forest amongst the animals and write best-selling nature books. However the animal in her begins to miss the precious company of men and so she returns to civilization. Lila shaves her body hair and begins a somewhat odd relationship with Nathan Bronfman (Tim Robbins). Nathan happens to be an etiquette scientist who tries to teach mice and Lila table manners. One day, Lila and Nathan come across an untamed man (Rhys Ifans) who was raise by a father who believed himself to be a monkey. That man is later nicknamed Puff. The Puff creature happens to be the perfect subject for Dr. Nathan Bronfman as he changes Puff's wild ways to more more cultivated conduct. Lila is left torn between lying about her "human nature" or embracing her urges and running wild.

Perhaps I'm as prude as Tim Robbins's character, however there is no appreciation of the refined gross-out humor in my sight. It appears as though the crude humor found its way into the movie for no reason other than the fact it could. Luckily the film makes up for that in very unique cinematography. The interesting camera angles and settings take away a bit from the numerous unnecessary masturbation jokes and bodily fluid gags. There were many other ways that such a creative team of filmmakers could have coped with them in a more substantial manner and prevented their detraction of the finer aspects of the movie.

The finer aspects of the film include the brilliant acting from some of the somewhat less familiar faces in Hollywood. Actress Patricia Arquette creates a character that is believable, originative and daring. She inhibits Lila with great ease and manages to push all the right buttons to make her tick just the right way. Rhys Ifans fills Puff's shoes with more content than expected. While he is able to add much to the film due to his comedic nature, there are a few points in the film where Rhys is able to show even greater depth. Both actors make great counterparts.

At times obscene and at others strange, the comedy manages to tackle some more thought-provoking issues, outside of humping. "Human Nature" discusses issues of evolution, the human desire to blend in and what it really is that makes us human. It walks through a somewhat slow and unstructured journey that imprints the difference between civilization, monkeys and mankind.

Despite its charms, "Human Nature" is not what it could have been. It does not live up to its potential because the filmmakers decided to make too many hollow & irrelevant stops and too few truly important ones. In the end, "Nature" is daring, well acted, unique, intelligent in spirit and very very crude.

Grade: C
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10/10
The best film in years
kayb-318 March 2002
Why aren't more films like this?

After a dreadful 2001 we know have a film of invention and originality with something to say. It's also incredibly funny.

Comparisons with Being John Malkovich will be inevitable but these two are creating a whole genre of their own: the off-the-wall, gender-role obsessed, animalcentric super comedy.

More, please.
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7/10
Decent film does not live up to it's potential
frankvandal3 June 2010
With the talent of Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman, the idea had enormous potential to be a profound and insightful exploration. But the entire project just fell flat. It was clever in parts, and overall it was different and interesting, but it was by no means a brilliant work of art or a truly meaningful look into human and animal existence. Many of the elements were present, but they never actually came together in any meaningful form. The opening scene wonderfully illustrates what should have been developed throughout the remainder of the film. After the titles roll by, we see a pair of mice (having successfully escaped a predator) walk by a dead human body with no interest or concern. With an odd sort of humor, we can see the difference between human culture and that of the natural world. Clearly, the mice do not care about filing police reports, notifying the press, learning about the deceases family, and all of the other hundreds of mundane things we humans do without thinking twice. Sadly, this sort of clever writing does not carry throughout the rest of the film. In addition, the acting is mediocre, and the characters feel as if they were not fully developed. The odd quarks and bizarre ideas, so much a trademark of Kaufman, are few and far between and seem as though they were merely added as an afterthought in order to make it seem more unique. The basic idea is good, and Kaufman's writing does manage to hold interest, but it is nothing special. The sad part is it had the potential to be a nearly perfect film. Somehow the great talent behind this move did not do nearly as much as they could have. Nonetheless, it is still a very worthwhile film. Kaufman's subtle presentation of ideas about life still manages to provoke thought, and it is a nice break (albeit a small one) from the traditional formula for movies.
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7/10
Superb idea, made into a Superb film!
namashi_120 May 2009
Michel Gondry's 2001 flick 'Human Nature' is a fascinating idea made into a fascinating, superb film. Imagine a women who has hair all over her body... a somewhat Tarzan is trained to be a human being and a dead doctor is talking from hell/heaven. What a unique and commendable idea, Written by Charlie Kaufman and wonderfully directed by Michel Gondry, 'Human Nature' is different stuff, but pretty good stuff. Thumbs Up!

Performances: Tim Robbins can never be doubted. He's fantastic as always. Miranda Otto carries off her french accent wonderfully and delivers a stupendous performance. Rhys Ifans is a complete natural, not once he goes overboard. Patricia Arquette is superb.

on the whole 'Human Nature' is morbid, but, neat work. Watch this one!
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10/10
A Freudian Comedy
Jeffrey Wang2 May 2007
Freud stated that all human behavior is determined by primal instincts, such as sex and hunger.

Kaufman and Gondry's Human Nature brilliantly explores this notion, and it is a blast to watch.

This is one of the funniest, most intelligent films I have ever seen about human relationships...if Woody Allen and Salvador Dali ever collaborated on a film, it would look something like Human Nature.

What makes this film so brilliant is that it explores so many intelligent themes, such as American versus French culture, the battle of the sexes, the survival instinct, the dangers of repression and the resultant outbreak of the Id, and yet is able to sustain a lighthearted, surreal sense of humor throughout it all.

I believe that the reason this film was not so well-received was because Being John Malkovich was so well-received, that expectations were exceedingly high for Kaufman's follow up film, Human Nature. When Human Nature turned out to be a vastly different film from Being John Malkovich, the critics predictably were not satisfied with the film.

Michel Gondry, the director of Human Nature, is a true original, and all of his subsequent films, Eternal Sunshine, Dave Chappelle's Block Party, and the Science of Sleep, are also brilliant.

But for me, Human Nature is his best film so far, because it is able to balance the drama and the comedy without one overwhelming the other, as in Eternal Sunshine.
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7/10
See it for Rhys Ifans
room10222 October 2002
In terms of release dates, Human Nature (2001) has got to be one of the weirdest movies I've encountered: It premiered in Cannes 2001, but is getting released only now (May 2002) in the states (limited release) and Europe, in a painfully slow manner - See Release Dates.

Nice movie about the human nature, as its title suggests. It presents some interesting aspects about the human society and the rules we make. Although I expected it to be a little more "deep" and present some more fundamental and philosophical ideas, it's very enjoyable and extremely funny at times.

The 4 leading actors are great, especially Rhys Ifans and Patricia Arquette (how brave!); Who knew she's got such a lovely singing voice, too?

This is Michel Gondry's first feature. Gondry is a French video-clips director, known for his excellent work on such music videos as Massive Attack's "Protection"; Chemical Brothers' "Let forever be"; Foo Fighters' "Everlong"; Daft Punk's "Around the World"; and Bjork's "Joga", "Bachelorette", "Hyperballad", "Isobel", "Army of me" and "Human Behaviour".

6.5/10
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