WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
This is James Franco's directorial debut, in which he's also the writer, producer, and lead star. He plays Harry Walker, a down on his luck novelist who moves into an apartment for some alone time. But then things go to hell when he finds out that there's an ape living in his apartment.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
THE APE is about a struggling writer whose roommate is a Hawaiian-shirt wearing gorilla. Sounds like a winning premise to me. Unfortunately, that humorous idea is where the fun ends. This film, labeled as a "dark comedy", falls prey to some really childish gags. In one particular scene, James Franco's character gets splattered with ape feces. In another, his gorilla buddy shouts "gorilla wet willies!" as he sticks his fingers in Franco's ears. There's even a wonderful discussion about how Franco being a writer is just a front to hide the fact that he's actually "in love with cock". In other words, this in a no-budget independent movie about dick, shit, and gay jokes. Aside from Kevin Smith, I don't know a single director who has been able to pull off that formula. First-time director James Franco hasn't proved me wrong.
There are portions of THE APE that have a great surreal quality to them, and others that have some top-notch writing. These aspects are almost enough to get over the extremely juvenile humor concerning the gorilla. But even then, you're still left with some abysmal acting (not by Franco, mind you) and a fat guy in a dumb-looking gorilla mask. I've enjoyed Franco's work in the past, and really wish I could recommend this movie, but it just doesn't have enough laughs to it. It might have worked better had it not used the Kevin Smith formula (a.k.a. combining intelligence with dick and fart jokes), because that actually marred it more than helped.
There are a couple of extras here.
Audio Commentary (with James Franco, Brian Lally, and Vince Jolivette): This is a decent track featuring some insightful comments (mainly from Franco, who chats the most out of the three), but overall it's nothing special. If you really like the movie, then it's worth a listen.
Interview with James Franco (9:07): An interesting discussion concerning how the movie developed from a play, was transferred to the screen with the same actors, and so on and so forth. Worth a watch.
There are also 4 Previews.
If you can appreciate independent movies made on a shoe-string budget, like jokes involving an ape masturbating to the Discovery Channel, and appreciate James Franco's performances, then this is the movie for you. Personally, the dick jokes are what stopped me from enjoying this one. It's not that I don't enjoy that sort of humor (I love it!), but it also has to be funny... and that's where THE APE falters.