Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter for the comedy “Being John Malkovich,” has once again created a cast of characters viewers can enjoy. He has successfully brought to the screen a doctor trying to teach table manners to field mice, a woman with a hormonal imbalance that causes her to grow hair on every inch of her body and a young man whose father raised him as an ape. Sound interesting?
Tim Robbins (“Nothing to Lose”) stars as the very civilized and polite scientist Nathan Bronfman, who is trying to teach mice to use table manners. We receive a background into Nathan’s anal-retentive nature with flashbacks showing his eccentric parents, Robert Forster (“Jackie Brown”) and Mary Kay Place (“The Rainmaker”), during dinner. Nathan then gets romantically involved with Patricia Arquette’s (“Stigmata”) character, the nature writer Lila Jute. She tries desperately to be civilized for her newfound love by concealing her animal instincts and her unsightly body hair. But as the relationship progresses, she feels the need to show her Nathan the great outdoors on a nature hike where they find Puff. Puff, played by the very funny Ryhs Ifans (“Notting Hill”), was unfortunately raised by an ape, or at least a man who thought himself to be an ape. With this discovery Nathan thinks it’s a prime opportunity to see if he can make a wild “creature” into a civilized human being. His girlfriend, being a strong animal lover, thinks of it as cruel but “sells her soul” to please her man and agrees to help civilize Puff. The plot spins out-of-control with hilarious situational comedy and characters so pathetic you can’t help but laugh at them and be happy you aren’t them.
The script has everything. The dialogue is solid, and the comic elements are not forced or contrived. The plot develops on its own to become a fantastic piece of film that should acquire somewhat of a cult following like Kaufman’s latest hit, “Being John Malkovich.”
The acting took great writing and made it better. Ifans is without a doubt an underrated actor and comedian in the business who will hopefully gain some recognition after his work in this film. If Hollywood is smart, although no one has accused them of that in the past, they will be demanding this actor in many roles in the upcoming movie season. For those who read my column regularly (yes, I kid myself by believing people read my articles), they will know that only one A has been given since I started writing for the Collegian and that was for “We Were Soldiers.” This movie receives my second A for possessing every element of what a good comedy should possess, including a midget with a gun at the end. It is currently only playing at the Campus Twin here in Ft. Collins, so rush out to see this – you won’t regret it. n
Suggestions with Tim Robbins: “Bob Roberts,” “Bull Durham,” “Nothing To Lose,” “Shawshank Redemption,” “The Player,” “High Fidelity,” “Arlington Road,” “Jacob’s Ladder,” “The Hudsucker Proxy.”
Suggestions with Patricia Arquette: “Bringing Out the Dead,” “Little Nicky,” “Lost Highway,” “Nightwatch,” “Flirting with Disaster,” “True Romance,” “Beyond Rangoon,” “Ed Wood.”
Suggestions with Ryhs Ifans: “The Shipping News,” “Notting Hill,” “The Replacements,” “Little Nicky.”