The Ape review by The Grim Ringler

The Ape

The Ape

Everyone has a dream. You want to play in a band, or play a sport, or act, or be a porn star, or a mob boss, or whatever. Me, I wanted to be a director. Among other things. So I can see the allure of directing, especially for an actor, who wants to see the other side of the camera. I cant imagine how rad it would be, and scary, to direct a film at a young age. Actor James Franco got the opportunity to do just this and, I think he blinked under the pressure.

A young husband and father gets the itch to write and feels that the time has come where he either has to put up or shut up when it comes to writing. Choosing his art over his family he decides to move out for three months to write his book. His wife, none too pleased, stands by her man and supports his decision. Newly freed of his familial responsibilities, Harry moves into a one-bedroom apartment to focus on writing his great novel. What he hadnt realized is that the apartment came with a walking, and back-talking gorilla with a penchant for Hawaiian shirts and blunt honesty. Harry is frightened at first, then simply annoyed as he realizes that this particular ape isnt out to rob him of his bananas but came with the apartment, as per the lease agreement. Harry begrudgingly accepts his new roommate and turns his attention to the novel. His first attempts are fumbling and seem to be aping, if you will pardon the joke, other authors he admires. He is stuck, and his cajoling ape isnt helping things. All of that changes though when he manages to seduce his boss and have an exciting office tryst with her while on the clock. Suddenly he is inspired, he is free, he is the wild man he has been caging, the strong man that has been held down by his wife and child. He is man, hear him roar! Harry and the ape turn their attentions to the novel and over the course of a night put together the first chapter of what they believe with be a serialized novel that shall appear in famed magazine The New Yorker. Harry mails off the first chapter and heads back to work, only to find that the boss has had second thoughts, regrets their momentary fling, and wants it to be forgotten. Harry, full of I Am Man juice refuses to believe that he didnt fully knock her socks off, but when she insists that, no, he didnt in the least, he quits the job in a rage and heads home. Awaiting him is the news that his wife has found out he cheated and wants to end the marriage and suddenly Harry isnt so tough anymore. Unwilling to let Harry give up on his dream, the ape helps Harry get back into his groove and rekindles the passion he had to write his book. So, out of work but full to brimming with inspiration, thanks to the ape, Harry and his furry roommate pour all their energy into the novel and its completion. What waits at the end of that tunnel though may not be what Harry had hoped though, as neither he nor the ape had ever considered what they might do should the novel not be as well received as they hope. But perhaps the bigger question is, who Harry really is, beneath the bluster, and who his ape is beneath the fur.

At its heart, The Ape is a story of identity and of how easy it can be to mislead ourselves about our talent, our dreams, and whom we really are inside. Ably directed, Franco creates an engaging and entertaining film that has more than a few really great one-liners. The hell of it, at least for Franco is that the ape steals the show. Outrageous, funny, and the perfect spoiler for the dour Harry, the ape, and the actor in the suit, gets to say and do everything Harry wishes he could and is really the heart of the film. The idea for the film, and the story it tells is very interesting and, while it isnt entirely successful, it poses a lot of questions as to whom we really are deep down inside.

The film is a very well made affair and does point out some very unfortunate truths within the male species but it seemed that every step forward was countered with two back. Franco alternates between very good to over the top. The dialogue, which at times is so clever and so sharp, then will turn to unbelievable as Harry gets into heated arguments with his boss that dont seem realistic at all. The biggest knock may well be that the allegory here is just too obvious, and the end too is so telegraphed that the final revelations dont feel as surprising, horrifying, or really anything but sadly inevitable.

This is a fairly well made film, with, as I said, a lot of great lines. For a first film, its not bad at all. But the film feels too much like a play, which it started life at, and the revelations are not bold enough to really push the film above average. Fans of Franco will love the chance to see him stretching his talents, and fans of black-comedies will get a kick of the absurdity of a talking ape. Sadly, the rest of us will have to suffice with a decent movie that just didnt live up to its potential.


5 out of 10 Jackasses
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