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Monkey Business

review by Zach B.

 

 

Not Rated

Running Time: 97 minutes

Starring: Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Charles Coburn, Marilyn Monroe, Hugh Marlowe, Henri Letondal, Robert Cornthwaite, Larry Keating, Douglas Spencer, Esther Dale, George Winslow

Screenplay by: Ben Hecht, Charles Lederer and I.A.L. Diamond
Story by: Harry Segall

Directed by: Howard Hawks

 

Studio: Fox

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: Theatrical Trailers, Restoration Comparison, Still Gallery

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Stereo, English Mono, French Mono, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection

Released: May 14th, 2002

 

 

Cary Grant is Dr. Barnaby Fulton, a nice and rather straight forward chemist who is working on a fountain of youth formula for the chemical company he works for. The formula is being tested on chimps (yay, monkey family). However, things go nutty when Esther, a chimp, mixes the formula into the office water cooler. From there, those who drink the water begin to feel and act like they're younger and younger. This means trouble for Barnaby and his wife Edwina (Ginger Rogers), among other things.

"Monkey Business" is simply a fun movie and classic screwball comedy at its finest. It's often hilarious, and quite boisterous in its action. The script, credited to three writers, works very well, perhaps far beyond what it should. The dialogue is quite witty and natural, as rants and words often become quite hilarious, especially when the characters do grow younger. Not to mention the legendary Howard Hawks offers keen direction to the story, keeping everything going at good length, so things never become tiresome and are always fun. There is just a classic style and classic feel to the flick. Oh yeah, monkeys are always funny!

This film is definently worth a watch, especially if you love comedy and is definently one of the best comedies of the 1950s in my opinion. I don't know what it is, be it the talented cast or the writing, but I'm a sucker for screwball comedies like this one. And even though this is labeled a Monroe film, it's really Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers' moments to shine. Monroe takes a back seat in this film in a Grant's secretary, but she's good in her supporting performance. This whole cast is zany and active, bursting with energy, especially as they get younger. Ginger Rogers is a scream, and Cary Grant nails playing the nice, nervous guy and then changing instantly. Two talented actors working together for the second time... the chemistry is certainly there, and so is their comic timing, proving that they were some of the 20th century's greatest talents. To get a great look at that and to really see what I mean, you must check out "Monkey Business."

 

Yes, another Monroe film means another restoration. Like Niagara and Don't Bother To Knock, this is the only other film in the second collection to be presented in 1.33:1 full screen, as originally shot. And yep, this one is black and white too. Unfortunatly, this somewhat grainy transfer exhibits a lot of problems. There are quite a few pieces of dirt and nicks on the print, as well as some shimmering and a lot of noise. However, I found major lock ups and freezing that resulted in skipping and major pixelazation slighty after the sixteen minute mark, whereas I couldn't watch anything for another minute and a half. That was certainly annoying and disheartening, especially since it's a funny scene involving a monkey. Otherwise, this is a decent, but not spectacular restoration of a film. Maybe Fox feel they didn't have to do too much seeing how Ms. Monroe isn't in it much...

 

The English stereo track is rather meek and sounds largely mono spread across two channels and that's it. It's pretty disappointing, but overall, it's good for what it is. The music sounds nice and the sound effects, be it monkeys slurping or wild teenage antics going on do work, and the dialogue is clear so you should have no problems hearing what the characters are saying. Fidelity is also pretty high. Still, it's nothing great. Also included are French and English mono tracks, English subtitles, Spanish subtitles and English closed captions.

 

Your typical Still Gallery featuring stills from the movie and a Restoration Comparison in full frame, with a text intro about the process to restore "Monkey Business." Three short scenes are played... judging from the clips and the film, it doesn't seem too much was restored.

And last, we have Theatrical Trailers, one for each film in the second Marilyn Monroe collection. The "Niagara" trailer is in full frame, "Let's Make Love" in non-anamorphic widescreen, "Don't Bother To Knock" in full frame, "Monkey Business" in full frame and "River Of No Return" in anamorphic widescreen. Plus, a trailer for the original Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection.

 

A hilarious movie and a comedy gem, "Monkey Business" is a must see for any comedy lover and screwball comedy fan. This DVD has the usual Monroe extras but a seemingly lackluster presentation. Worth a rental, but it's a must for you Monroe collectors...