I thought it would be longer than a week before I was to be subjugated to my next kids’ movie. Granted, My Little Pony: A New Generation turned out to be pretty alright, but the fact that it hasn’t even been a week and I’m being sent back into the mines of straight to digital kids’ shlock is just soul-crushing. Yet I do this to myself out of some sense of entertainment. Is this entertainment? Is it really that enjoyable to read about me watching kids’ movies that no one cares about? Cause I can tell you right now, no one cares about C.I.Ape.
Yes, I’m watching a movie called C.I.Ape for review purposes. For the record, last time I checked, this is the good timeline. The world may be going to hell and a handbasket but at least this is the world where we finally got information on Bayonetta 3 after 1,386 days. The good timeline is where I have to watch a movie about a talking ape that works for the CIA to help them solve crimes. This is what my life has become. Paw Patrol, My Little Pony, Christian faith movies, and now, secret agent chimps.
Are we sure this is the good timeline?
Director: Ali Zamani
Release Date: September 28, 2021 (VOD)
The idea of the C.I.A having a chimp go on covert operations is a moronic one. It’s so moronic that it should be a slam dunk at being so-bad-it’s-good. I mean, the premise writes itself. Have a talking chimp go on secret missions, have him make stupid monkey puns while generally being slick as hell, then watch the bad guys shake their fists to the heavens as he flings feces on their face. Comedy gold, would totally see. And for the intro, I thought that’s exactly what we were going to get.
If you thought you’ve seen bad CGI in a movie, BOY HOWDY will C.I.Ape prove you ain’t seen nothing yet. The ape in question, Sam (Scott Anthony Gould) does not fit into any scene he’s in. He sticks out more than The Rock as Scorpion King ever did and you never once believe he meshes in with the world. At times it feels almost intentional. There’s no way the director, editor, and special effects team couldn’t have seen it and went “this looks like something a freshman animation major would cook up for a final in a weekend.” And it’s here, and it’s in the final product, and it’s awful, and I love it.
But then immediately after a James Bond introduction (make the C.I.Ape the new Bond you cowards), it’s all downhill from there. The movie sees Sam being sent to Alpha Dog Island to stop the eponymous Alpha Dog (Skip Shwink) from, you guessed it, taking over the world. He looks like a cross between Raul Julia’s M. Bison with the voice of White Goodman from Dodgeball. His goal is to build two robot dogs and use them to… actually I’m not too sure how that equates to world domination. Just what can some idiot with a leather fetish do with two robot dogs that have a processing speed that would make Internet Explorer look efficient.
So Sam is on the island for 80% of the movie and it just grinds to a halt as soon as the operation is a go. Sam just wanders aimlessly and occasionally does spy stuff, but we mostly spend our time watching everything else that happens on the island. We see a chef complain about how Alpha Dog treats him. There are several scenes where a group of villains sit at a table and bicker with each other. Over at the C.I.A. headquarters, we see three interns argue about the merits of fresh pizza versus frozen pizza. The amount of food analogies in this movie is ridiculous by the way, and that’s coming from someone who makes them all the time in their reviews.
When Sam does show up and stick out like a sore thumb, he doesn’t even do anything. He barely says a word in the entire movie. I repeat, the talking ape, IN A TALKING APE MOVIE, rarely speaks. He doesn’t even say stupid quotes like “I’ll make a monkey out of you,” or “Looks like this place is going bananas,” all of which are undeniably hilarious. Instead, he just gives random words of wisdom and plays therapist to a teenage girl who’s Alpha Dog’s daughter. The stupidest scene in the entire movie is when Alpha Dog’s daughter is flying a kite on a beach and Sam just walks on like it’s nobody’s business and listens to her talk about her dead mom. He doesn’t even say anything in the scene. He just nods, gives a thumbs-up, and smiles.
He also does finger guns earlier in the movie. Just making sure everyone is aware of this because anyone who does finger guns is totally a narc and should not be trusted.
Oh yeah, I forgot about the dead mom. So weirdly enough, there is one element of the movie that isn’t totally irredeemable and it’s by far the most baffling thing about the movie; Alpha Dog’s relationship with his daughter. While Alpha Dog mugs to an absurd degree and is over-the-top to the point of it not being charming, in the moments where he’s not a megalomaniacal meathead he’s actually a really caring father who genuinely wants to make his daughter happy. Even more strangely, those moments are the best-acted parts in the film. Most scenes have characters delivering flat and one-note performances, but kudos to Skip Shwink, whoever you may be, for actually giving him depth as a character. I honestly did feel for the guy when he wanted to make his daughter happy. He seemed like a good dad just trying to be a good single father and by God, you feel for him.
But that’s the thing! C.I.Ape is just all over the place. There’s a subplot where one of the C.I.A. agents is getting texts from a secret admirer that barely goes anywhere, there’s the family drama with Alpha Dog, the machinations of another evil scientist, and that’s only a handful of the meaningless avenues that the film decides to go in. Also, virtually every scene ends in a fade to black. You’ll notice it every single time and it will drive you insane. But I was immune to its attempts to destroy my sanity because I saw this movie of my own volition! Nice try Lionsgate, you’ll have to do better than that to truly break me!
Thinking aloud about C.I.Ape I don’t even get the impression that this was intentionally trying to be a so-bad-it’s-good movie. It jumps from idea to idea so much and does virtually nothing to capitalize on its premise of an ape working for the C.I.A. I know that I would buy every single copy of this movie if it was about a super-intelligent ape being placed into a foreign country and destabilizing it with crack and funding their militia movements to put in a totalitarian pro-American regime at the detriment of the people, featuring a scene where he’s giving a poor emaciated and destitute teenager his first addictive hit as he turns to the camera and says “I’m sure he’ll find this appealing,” with a wink and a nudge. But I can’t review the movie I want. I have to review the movie I got.
Though seriously, if anyone wants me to write that movie I’ll gladly do it.
Wait where was I? Oh yeah, C.I.Ape is bad and you shouldn’t be at all surprised it’s bad. I can’t say it’s truly awful and it didn’t waste my time because there are moments where I was laughing at just how stupid it could be, but only liking 10% of a movie is not a good thing. So can I please, PLEASE not see any more garbage VOD shovelware like this for the rest of the year? Please? Can I finally see something good? It’s been so long since I’ve seen a movie that made me feel happy inside. I deserve happiness too!!!