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Human Nature (2002)
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Review Date: April 22, 2002
Director: Michael Gondry
Writer: Charlie Kaufman
Producers: Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman, Ted Hope
Actors:
Tim Robbins as Nathan Bronfman
Patricia Arquette as Lile Jute
Rhys Ifans as Puff
Plot:
A woman whose entire body is covered with hair falls in love with a virgin scientist who is teaching table manners to mice. Soon thereafter, the duo discover a man in the woods, raised as an ape, bring him back into society and attempt to re-introduce him into the world of humans. And did I mention that the scientist also has an extremely tiny penis? Kookiness ensues.
Critique:
You can have a one-minute trailer featuring a quirky premise, humorous situations, a funky score and originality that can be quite entertaining, but when you attempt to stretch the same over an hour and a half movie, it can be difficult to sustain the same type of entertaining consistency. I enjoyed BEING JOHN MALKOVICH like most people because it was as creative a script as I'd seen in quite some time, but I do remember thinking that some of the stuff may have been a little too "out there". With this film, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, the man behind both films, has taken more of his fantastical ideas and pasted them into an entire picture filled with apes, a 35-year old virgin with a miniscule pecker, a woman whose entire body is covered with hair and plenty of other oddities. Of course, much of this does entertain for the most part, primarily due to the grounded performances by Robbins and Ifans, but as an complete picture, it seemed to lose its edge at certain points, feeling almost like it was going in circles. It did however feature many very funny and imaginative moments, including Robbins' experiments on mice, to which he was attempting to teach table manners (I doubt that you will see anything weirder on the big screen this year), and Rhys Ifans changing from an ape-like being to a sophisticate like no other (I loved the way the breadth of his vocabulary just skyrocketed once he learned the ropes).

It also sported Patricia Arquette in her birthday suit in every other scene, although it's to note that she is covered in ghastly body hair most of the time, and some fun directing choices. The message behind the movie is also a pretty basic one about how one can never really change their innate nature, and does play around with the whole sexuality aspect, but there were just too many "musical chairs" for my taste, with most everyone in the film switching partners at some point or another (with little investment in the characters to care either way). There was also one particular character, a French girl, who was damn nice to look at, but didn't seem to have any real "raison-d'etre" (sorry, I just had to). Granted, the midget scene was funny, the mice were a gas, Tim Robbins' character was pathetic beyond words and the final scene was ideal in showcasing the film's overall significance, but when all was said and done, the movie just seemed to be "trying too hard" to be something different and didn't really add up to a superlative whole. It was also a little too artsy-farsty in some sequences, which is generally not my bag either. I guess I would recommend it to those who adored BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and who like to try exotic dishes when traveling abroad, but for anyone who isn't ready to see humans behaving like apes, Patricia Arquette shaving herself down from top to bottom or a healthy dose of pretension, this "nature" flick is probably not for you.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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