Robert Vince is at it again with talking animals in Air Bud Entertainment’s Monkey Up. After directing the stupefyingly popular Air Buddies franchise, Vince returns to talented monkeys after cutting his teeth with such films as MVP: Most Valuable Primate and MVP: Most Vertical Primate.
Vince’s films are not for families – they are straight-up distractions for very young children. Under that definition, his back catalogue receives an indifferent shrug from me. The same goes for Monkey Up. It could try harder overall, but it’ll entertain kids nonetheless.
I must confess I have a soft spot for Monkey Up as an adult overlooking what qualifies for young audiences nowadays. While there are obligatory poop-slinging gags, the film is surprisingly creative when building a relationship between superstar Monty the Monkey and other characters. Monkey Up skips moments of shock followed by explanation as to why Money can talk. Everyone is copacetic with Monty because they already know why he’s famous. They’ve seen his commercials, and they must air often because nobody is that starstruck or phased when meeting him. This allows Monkey Up more time to focus on other set pieces – that deserves some credit.
Pitch Perfect’s Skylar Astin provides a good personality for Monty; hopefully opening him up for more voice acting. The supporting players are all typical characters, but the actors filling out each role have a contagious innocent charm. Including Let’s Make A Deal co-host Jonathan Mangum as a wishy-washy writer who is unknowingly helped by Monty.
Parents: if your tykes are remotely interested in Monkey Up, they’ll have a good time with it. As for you, by no means will this flick peel back a new layer on Robert Vince’s career, but you’ll probably agree that Monkey Up is the best film he’s made in a while. Or, you’ll walk out of the room and not care – that’s also a valid response.