Awfully Good: The Ape

Before James Franco gave rise to the new Planet of the Apes trilogy, he got involved with a different kind of monkey business…


The Ape (2005)


Director: James Franco
Stars: James Franco, Brian Lally, Allison Bibicoff

An aspiring writer leaves his family and moves in to an apartment to work on his masterpiece, only to find that he's stuck with a new primate roommate.

Look at that poster above. Just look at it. I even made it bigger than usual so you can truly appreciate it. Here's another one:

This is not a joke. Those are real posters for a real movie written, directed and starring James Franco. And no matter how bad you think the promotional materials make THE APE look, I promise you—it's even worse in reality. It's so bad that given James Franco's demonstrated love of THE ROOM, I'm not entirely sure he didn't make this film this terrible on purpose.

This makes for a cute opening credits sequence until you realize all the title cards were written in James Franco's own blood.

It's clear there are two sides to James Franco. There's the talented actor who stars in stoner comedies with his friends and the occasional Oscar-nominated film. And then there's the artsy James Franco who paints, writes poetry, shoots experimental Three's Company fan fiction and generally just seems to make things that only James Franco would be interested in.

Such as a movie where a family man has a nervous breakdown, moves in with a monkey, and eventually builds a primate sex doll.

James Franco starts every day by showing the other actors the size of his ego...

THE APE is Franco's directorial debut and for his first time behind the camera he unsurprisingly chose to make an existential absurdist drama about what it means to be an artist. That means you the audience get to enjoy constant diatribes about Dostoevsky, sex, the monotony of life, and what separates humans from animals. While there is an inherent humor in the ridiculousness of Franco discussing all this with a guy in a Halloween gorilla costume, most of the movie is insufferable. It feels like a bad student film, down to the random interstitial scenes featuring a real chimp. It also feels like Franco was high during every step of the creative process. (Which seems pretty likely.)

... and giving an overview of his best qualities.

The film's biggest hurdle is that not one of its characters is likable or even interesting. Early on, Franco abandons his loving wife and young son to selfishly write his book without distractions, and then proceeds to spend the remainder of the movie dicking around at his day job and sleeping with other women. It's a whiny, painful performance and Franco plays him without any real relatable qualities. We also spend time with some of Franco's coworkers, but all are pretty inconsequential and some are introduced for one scene and then are never seen again.

I guess Rick Baker wasn't available.

So that leaves us with the title character—a foul-mouthed nihilist gorilla who wears a Hawaiian shirt. The Ape shows up in Franco's apartment without explanation (he'd been living with the previous tenant and was written in to the lease) and Franco seems more annoyed at having a roommate than surprised at encountering a talking monkey. If you're hoping to watch the two get in to wacky sitcom hijinks as the poster suggests, you're going to be disappointed. The film opts for a much more straightforward and disturbing tone, with graphic scenes where The Ape covers James Franco with his feces or vocally masturbates to National Geographic programming. And then there's the part where The Ape forces Franco to cuddle on the couch, saying, "We just need a little time to learn each other's bodies." [shudder]

Why yes, that IS Academy Award-nominee James Franco holding a homemade gorilla sex doll!

As the film reaches its messy conclusion, things really go off the deep end. Eventually the two roommates become friends, with Franco even starting to dress like The Ape, who he now lovingly refers to as "Apey." The pair spends their time destroying their apartment and humping everything. (There's no better visual metaphor for THE APE than watching James Franco hump a framed portrait of Fyodor Dostoyevsky.) If that's not bad enough, Franco also makes a gorilla sex doll with realistically furry private parts and suggests, "Maybe we can share her!" Yep, that's really in the movie.

James Franco covered in ape shit. Another great metaphor for this movie.

Some of this may sound like a fun trainwreck to behold, but even all that insanity and gimmicky weirdness can't save THE APE from being a chore to sit through. Watch at your own risk.

"You're name's Harry? I'm hairy too!" It gets worse.

Flung poop, jerking off, humping, sex dolls… this montage has everything you ever wanted to see between James Franco and a guy in a gorilla costume.

Even the ape wears clothes.

Going bananas? Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • There's an interstitial scene with a real monkey
  • James Franco was clearly high during filming

Double shot if:

  • You can't take the movie anymore and need a drink


Thanks to Devin for suggesting this week's movie!


Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Extra Tidbit: If you missed our Awfully Good on Tim Burton's PLANET OF THE APES remake, you can find that right here.
Source: JoBlo.com



Latest Entertainment News Headlines