343) Monkey Shines (1988) Dir: George Romero Date Released: July 1988 Date Seen: October 23, 2010 Rating: 3.25/5
I maintain that if George Romero were a more technically polished filmmaker, he might stand a chance of being accepted as a thinking man's genre filmmaker (ie: David Cronenberg). Like Cronenberg, Romero doesn't care about character development; his characters are walking experiments, only this and nothing more. I never got the sense that Romero cared about Monkey Shines' athletic protagonist, just his predicament, his failed relationship with his mother and the bond he has with his helper monkey. And in that sense, I can absolutely see why the movie was not taken seriously, even when I was actually really into it and the two friends I was watching the film with clearly were not.
This was a frustrating viewing experience because I, unlike my otherwise lovely company, had already gotten used to Romero's acquired weaknesses as a storyteller (I'm hip, I'm cool, I've seen The Dark Half on the big screen). By the time Romero made Monkey Shines, he'd already become set in his ways. He already knew just about everything he was going to learn as a filmmaker and, since he hasn't made a movie as ambitious and semi-earnest as Monkey Shines ,* he's probably not bound to learn it anytime soon. Which is unfortunate, because Romero is an American icon and I enjoy his films even when they're not completely on-target. Just wish this was a bit more polished, not necessarily more empathetic or any less preposterous.
*From what I've read about Bruiser and Two Evil Eyes, I tend to doubt that either film is bound to change my mind on this issue.