You know, movie geeks make a lot of noise about films in theaters that are great and barely ever receive the attention crap like “Meet Dave” does, but every so often when a new movie scarcely gathers any kind of promotion at all, there’s a reason. Cheap animation and a virtually non-existent plot pretty much destroy any semblance of potential this one-note premise has from the starting gates, as “Space Chimps” only clocks in at a lean eighty minutes and feels endless. Anyone over ten years old will be in pure agony watching Vanguard Animation’s throwback to “Apollo 13” and “Lost in Space,” with the story of a young chimp with aspirations of going to space. He is then picked up by NASA, and—-here it comes–he goes to space! That’s about it for the set-up that consumes the first sixteen minutes.
After the writers lose faith in the paper thin characters and terrible pop culture nods about twenty minutes in (Ooh, “Beverly Hills Cop”! How original!), they then shoe-horn a one dimensional villain and a convoluted world domination scheme to provide some conflict for our trio of heroes (and padding for the audience). The problem with that is the story on the alien planet feels completely disconnected from the central premise, thus we’re left feeling as if the studios just combined two rejected scripts during development. If that’s not bad enough, after a while the screenwriters just completely abandon the chimps in space premise in exchange for more hyperactive sci-fi pabulum. While the voice acting is varied (Patrick Warburton and Andy Samberg are great, Cheryl Hines plays herself—again), “Space Chimps” moves at a breakneck speed and yet goes absolutely nowhere.
I always enter in to an animated film with a healthy sense of optimism (I even gave “Doogal” a chance!) but in a summer that brought us “Wall-E,” talking chimps and NASA propaganda simply doesn’t cut it for me.