Chris Gore has told me to take it slightly easier on indie films, since they don’t have the same money or resources as a Hollywood feature. I completely agree, as a reviewer you should judge films on a sliding scale. You can’t put a film that costs tens of millions of dollars in the same category as one that costs a thousandth of that, it’s not fair. It is so easy to rip into Hollywood films starring the rich and famous. They are funded by huge, faceless corporations that are in the game simply to make more money. Bashing on their gold plated walls makes us nobodies feel better. Tearing down an indie film is a completely different beast. It feels as if you’re personally attacking a group of filmmakers, who have put their heart and soul into something deeply important to them. For them it’s much more about the love of film, than the love of money. This is something they have committed their lives to.
However, there is a factor called ingenuity, something that most Hollywood filmmakers have seem to forgotten and that indie filmmakers better have tons of, if they want to make worthwhile films. I’m sure it took plenty of ingenuity to get “Monkey Love” to the screen. More importantly though, is what appears on screen shows none of that ingenuity. Instead the film plays like a long stale episode of “Saved by the Bell,” where the characters get to say f**k a lot.
Amy, 22, living at home while she’s going to college, only has two friends in the world. Right away this rings false, why a bright, attractive girl like this only has two friends makes no sense. The script doesn’t give any reason why she wouldn’t have more. Amy is bored; she wants to make a major life change. So she begins to mess with the only seemingly good thing in her life, her friends. Dil, an oil-changer, the cool, nothing-phases-me type, and Aaron, an assistant manager at a fast food joint, the nervous-geeky-talky type, are in for a big surprise. Amy decides that she’ll ruin her friendship with these guys, by sleeping with them both.
As to Amy’s motivation behind wanting to destroy these friendships, the audience is left hanging. The screenwriter was probably too busy trying to come up with all the “witty,” God-how-I-wish-I-was-Kevin-Smith dialogue. The film opens with Aaron and Dil having a conversation about chimpanzee and gorilla ball size, and how it correlates to their relationships and mating habits, thus the title. Their discussion is peppered profusely with curse words and digs at each other’s mother. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s been an indie staple for a decade, this film has nothing new to add to it.
From here we move on to Amy’s propositions and the two sex scenes. The first one with Aaron is one of the only truly humorous scenes in the entire film. He pounds away at Amy, with all of his clothes still on, shaking the entire house. The second scene with Dil, plays as a metaphor for the entire film, it’s sloppy. No not the sex, the scene itself. It’s shoddily edited and lighted. It starts with quick cuts of them screwing all over Amy’s room, they hold for moment on Amy’s back as she takes off her shirt, and then its back to the quick cuts. In half of the cuts she has her shirt on, the rest of the time it’s off. In one cut the light’s here, in the next it’s coming from over there. As they finish up the scene, Amy has her shirt on again. Are we to believe that they stopped while she put it back on? It’s lazy filmmaking.
Amy has pulled her “plan” off perfectly. Aaron is now infatuated with her, he pursues, and she rejects his advances. This leaves him confused and pissed off. She then realizes that she is in fact in love with Dil and all his manliness. She tries to make something happen out of it, but he spurns her out of more confusion. Now she’s all alone, which is what she wanted, though obviously still not happy. Amy moves on to other men; a college professor with an Oedipus complex; and a cult-like leader who’s taken a vow of silence. She however, is still stuck on Dil. Meanwhile, Aaron and Dil continue their friendship, neither knowing about the others sexual relationship with Amy. They’re still having those “witty” conversations about sex and love. About this time I’m ready to jab a pen in my eardrum, out of frustration from the badly written dialogue. I really don’t want to sit through the climax as it all comes crashing together. But I do, and there are still more discussions to be had. Most of them take place in the badly done coffee shop set, that the characters never seem to leave. “I was confused.” “You hurt me.” “Blah, blah, blah.” It seems to drag on forever. Would you shut up, kiss, and make up already, please! We know that ninety-nine percent of all romantic comedies end the same way, so get there already. The movie finally wraps up with an eye-rolling, highly convoluted finish.
The entire film hangs on its participants conversations. Most of these play like an interview on your local news station; two stationary cameras, intercutting between the characters. It’s pedestrian at best, and gets very old, very quick. While the film doesn’t need Michael Bay camera movements, it demands something different to spice it up. Mainly though, the dialogue should have recieved a serious rewrite. It’s in a tough spot between servicable and good. The writer is trying way too hard, and it comes off forced.
There are a few bright spots in this dismal film. The actors playing Amy (Amy Stewart) and Dil (Jeremy Renner) are charismatic and produce fairly well rounded characters despite all the screenplay and directorial downfalls. Actor Seamus Dever, looking exactly like Jason Priestly from his “90210” days, plays his one note character of Aaron appropriately annoying. He gets the majority of the few laughable moments in the film.
To the filmmakers, if they’re reading this, I’m sorry. I didn’t go into “Monkey Love” looking to tear it down. I truly appreciate all the effort that went into the making of the film and I do see a lot of potential there. It simply didn’t come together this time around. Keep plugging away, and I may love the hell out of your next one.