By Andrea Warner
Monkeys in space probably sounded like a sure-fire hit to the Hollywood hotshots who gave this god-awful CGI movie the green light. It’s easy to score laughs (and some quick cash) with a monkey barrel’s worth of bad chimp puns— ‘cause kids are dumb, right?
Wrong. A big, fat, resounding silence greeted most of Space Chimps lame jokes, despite an audience laden with (I’m guessing) the studio’s target demographic: three to six year olds eating popcorn and drinking Coke at 10am on a Saturday morning.
In the film, The Space Program faces termination if a chimp-manned space shuttle cannot successfully return with proof of life on another planet. But, they need a “star” chimp to get more press for the expedition, so they recruit Ham III, grandson of the late, famous monkey astronaut, Ham. But, oh no! Ham III is self-involved, obnoxious, and just wants to (pardon the pun) monkey around in the circus as an entertainer.
As voiced by Andy Samberg (SNL, Hot Rod), Ham III is entirely unappealing and unfunny. Cheryl Hines and Patrick Warburton play along gamely as fellow chimps Luna and Titan, but it’s the equivalent of monkeys throwing feces at a wall—the jokes won’t stick no matter how much gusto they’re delivered with.
Most studios can’t rival the brilliance of CGI giant Pixar, but Space Chimps is so uninspired and dated, it feels as if it languished on the shelf for the last 20 years. The images are flat and lifeless, and the alien creatures that Ham and friends encounter look as if they were rendered by a five year old who lacks imagination. Space Chimps stalls, sputters, and dies before ever lifting off.