The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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'Space Chimps': The bad movie streak continues

July 18, 2008 |  4:28 pm

Spacechimps_5_3 Believe it or not, it's another week, another critical dud for Fox.  As I noted last Friday upon the release of the execrable "Meet Dave," 20th Century Fox has a knack for making bad movies. How bad? Putting aside last spring's "Horton Hears a Who," Fox has released 16 movies since last summer's "The Simpsons Movie" that haven't managed to even score a mediocre 50 at Rotten Tomatoes, the Web's leading aggregator of movie reviews.

The release of "Space Chimps" today stretches that streak to 17. The kid-friendly animated monkey movie landed with a thud, scoring a 35 at Rotten Tomatoes, putting it in the same dregs with "Speed Racer" (36) and "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" (34). The movie did get a big valentine from the New York Times, but most other critics were merciless. USA Today's Claudia Puig called the film "truly dreadful," saying it was reminiscent of "bad Saturday morning cartoon fare." Entertainment Weekly gave it a D. (Our review wasn't much better.)

Nearly all the critics noted how cheap and cruddy the animation looked, especially compared to the recently released "Wall-E." In fact, the animation appeared so cheesy that the LA Weekly's Robert Wilonsky joked that the movie "looks like they ran out of the $292.96 budget halfway through."

The critics' other favorite number was 81, which is how many minutes the film lasts. My wife is trying to get our 10-year-old to see the movie this weekend, though he seems worried that the film, which is G-rated, might play too young for him. If we go and it turns out to be a masterpiece, I'll be happy to cross swords with all those wrong-headed critics. As for the Fox streak, it will last until at least next weekend, when "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" hits the theaters. I like that title: I want to believe that it's a good movie, but based on the Fox track record, only seeing will be believing.   

Photo from "Space Chimps" by Kerry Hayes / 20th Century Fox