On occasion, we get advanced screening passes for a Saturday morning matinee. Usually the movie is rated G or a mild PG, and the kids are everywhere. Attendance is always less than full capacity, so there's no guilt about taking away the seat of some crying child. But if that were to happen... well, they should learn about disappointment at an early age.
So this weekend we saw Space Chimps, and it's pretty much what you'd expect for a film that doesn't enjoy the animation or production capabilities of Disney, Pixar, Fox, DreamWorks, or Warner Bros. It's from Starz Media, which is trying to branch out some into TV and film projects the way HBO and Showtime did. So consider this movie an early attempt to launch their creative endeavors out there; a test pilot, if you will.
The movie is about the slacker grandson of a real space chimp who's slumming as a cannonball stunt attraction in a circus. Then, when a space probe is lost in a wormhole, a financially struggling space agency (not NASA, apparently) needs non-human astronauts to see what's going on, and decides to hire him for the celebrity factor. We follow the chimps into alien territory, with its fluorescent CGI jungles and generic-looking lifeforms. (They're the type of characters you would have a hard time marketing, but then, Beanie Babies were successful.) All in all, it looks like a video game, which makes sense, because it is a video game.
The small ones really enjoyed it; this is a film they'll understand more than Kung Fu Panda or Wall-E. You know, for kids. As for me, I laughed exactly three times. It helps that the space agency included a trio of mildly amusing scientists, one of whom was Indian and another who looked like an egghead Diablo Cody.