By Ron Wells | June 7, 1999

Sniff. Sniff, sniff. Ewww! This one’s been on the shelf too long. I think it’s gone bad.
Disney, seeing that their child is hideously deformed, has decided on a mercy killing and laid this offspring on the tracks in front of the oncoming “Phantom Menace”. What’s wrong with it?
Dr. Ethan Powell (Anthony Hopkins) is studying apes in Africa where he disappears for two years. When he’s found, he kills three men before he’s captured and sent to America. Unwilling or unable to speak, he’s shipped to America where he injures a couple of guards as he’s shipped to Harmony Bay prison outside Miami to await trial. Dr. Theo Caulder (Cuba Gooding Jr. as probably the worst psychologist ever) has himself assigned to evaluate Powell so that he might get him to speak and provide fodder for Theo’s proposed book. Now, while the doctor is in a physical cage, Theo wants to break through Powell’s psychological cage. In turn, Powell wants to reveal Theo’s psychological cage, which in turn reveals Powell’s emotional ca-, oh, f**k it. What a load of crap.
Boys, it’s time to give those Oscars back. They will be returned when you remember to act. Oh, and Cuba? Just because Sir Anthony isn’t chewing the scenery doesn’t mean you have to pick up the slack.
Director Jon Turteltaub? I’m glad you’ve seen “One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest” and “The Shawshank Redemption” but you probably should not have used them as your entire frame of reference for this film. As for your depiction of Africa (“George of the Jungle” looked more credible), Hakuna Matada to you too, pal. Screenwriter Gerald Di Pego? Perhaps you should have actually talked to a real prison guard before depicting a plot twist that required a guard to break at least half a dozen major rules in effect in any U.S. prison.
Everyone? Characters instead of crude plot devices would have been nice. If I want a moral lesson wrapped in a lot of touch-feely actor crap, I’ll watch “Star Trek: Next Generation”. Next time, don’t take yourselves so seriously. This would have worked as a comedy starring Jerry Lewis and Adam Sandler. The world needs less psychobabble and more monkeys. The audience will respond better to ENTERTAINMENT than a club to the head.

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