Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thursday Randomness

Top 10 Monkeys in Movies

Inspired by comments from Cameron and Jason, the movie list category just got weird. These films may not all be cinematic feats or Oscar-winners...but they do have monkeys. Primates play an important role in each of these films, so for those who loves monkeys, here's a few to check out!

10. The Lion King (1994): Sure, the main characters in the movie are lions (plus a warthog and a meerkat). But Rafiki, the wise mandrill, is one of the goofiest, yet wisest characters in this Disney film. His wacky antics are balanced by his insights into the life of Simba.  Speaking of Disney films...

9. Aladdin (1992): Aladdin's sidekick is a fun little monkey named Abu, (not to be confused with Apu).  Abu only speaks in monkey grunts and squeaks, but he's a fun little guy.

8. Mighty Joe Young (1949): A young girl grows up with a pet gorilla, Joe; twenty years later, the gorilla has grown to enormous proportions, drawing the attention of some Hollywood folks who want to make a quick buck off Joe's abnormal size. You can imagine what happens next. The original MJY (not the Charlize Theron update) won an Oscar for Best Special Effects.

7. Bedtime for Bonzo (1951): Imagine this for a movie plot: former US president Ronald Reagan meets laboratory chimp, Bonzo. Reagan must somehow use Bonzo to prove to his potential father-in-law that faulty traits are not inherited, but shaped by environment (the old nature vs. nurture debate). It's a really lame premise for a film. Hilarity ensues. More presidents need to be in films with monkey sidekicks. Sequel idea: Bedtime for Bonzo 2: Bonzo and Bush.

6. Every Which Way but Loose (1978): This is one of those ridiculous campy movies that I'm sure Clint Eastwood doesn't want making a comeback any time soon. Eastwood plays a prize-fighter and trucker who also happens to have an orange orangutan for a sidekick named Clyde. They travel around and get into fights. It's worth watching to see Eastwood hanging out with a big orangutan.

5. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): While monkeys aren't around for most of the film, they play an important role in the opening scenes. A large monolith of unknown origin lands in the middle of a group of apes in prehistoric times. The monolith imparts wisdom into the monkeys, kickstarting the evolutionary process by giving them the ability to create technology. The monkeys start creating and using tools. Then the film flashes forward into the distant future, where technology is coming back to bite us. In any case, there's monkeys.

4. The Wizard of Oz (1939): This is the only film I know of that has flying monkeys. These airborne apes do the bidding of the wicked witch of the west, harassing Dorothy and her friends relentlessly. They aren't the brightest cronies for a villain to have, but if I had a pet I'd want it to be a flying monkey.

3. Curious George (2006): I loved these books as a kid so it was great to see it on the big screen. Curious George is an enthusiastic little monkey who is always getting himself into jams, usually having to be saved by the Man in the Yellow Hat.

2. Planet of the Apes (1968): An astronaut (Charlton Heston) crashes on an unknown planet, only to find that primates and humans have switched roles in the hierarchy of nature--the apes rule the planet and have made humans their slaves. The film was praised for its incredible make-up and costume design. Charlton Heston has never been more over-the-top. For monkey enthusiasts, this is a film to watch.

and the greatest monkey in film history....

1. King Kong (1933):  The king of all monkeys, Kong is a giant gorilla worshiped as a god on Skull Island. When a movie crew shows up on the island with a young actress, Kong is wooed by her beauty. The crew capture Kong, bringing him back to New York for one of the most thrilling monkey-based action sequences in film history. This movie is a classic that has spawned at least a few sub-par remakes. If you have not seen the 1933 version, it has remained remarkably timeless for being a story about a giant gorilla falling in love with an actress. The 30s-era graphics and technology used for Kong are also quite impressive. I'd highly recommend it.


  1. Creative list. I guessed that King Kong was going to be #1 from the beginning. I'm trying to think of other monkeys in movies that I liked and I keep hearing Amy's voice from Congo. Gosh that movie was lame.

  2. He's called "King" Kong for a reason--he's the top dog in any monkey list. And yes, Congo was lame.

  3. i havent seen 1933 kong, just the new one and the one with "The Dude"

    good list though. i like it.