Review by Jack Foley
IT PLAYS very young, it’s frequently very dumb and… well, there’s not really too much to recommend Space Chimps.
Kirk DeMicco’s animated family film is designed as a light-hearted tribute to the original Ham, a chimpanzee who became one of the first heroes of the American space programme when, on January 31, 1961, he was blasted off from Cape Canaveral and travelled 155 miles in 16.5 minutes before splashing down into the Atlantic.
Instead, it’s a derivative retread of countless other space movies (from Space Cowboys to Armageddon via The Right Stuff) that will struggle to entertain even the youngest minds given how many other, better animated films there are on release at the moment.
When a $5 billion Space Agency probe disappears into an intergalactic wormhole, the agency recruits Ham III (Andy Samberg), grandson of the first chimpanzee in space, to help retrieve it.
But the mission doesn’t go as planned and as the space chimps find themselves facing a hostile new planet, it’s up to the formerly carefree Ham III, a circus performer by trade, to become a reluctant hero and saviour.
To be fair, DeMicco does his best to paper over the wafer-thin story by moving things along at a fairly brisk pace, but he simply cannot mask the thinly drawn characters or the poor quality of the script – something that his vocal performers, including Samberg, Cheryl Hines and Stanley Tucci struggle with too.
The supposedly state-of-the-art animation is also pretty unimpressive, especially in light of the far-superior Wall-E, while the alien planet and its silly alien inhabitants are more annoying that silly or scary.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that this is being billed as a film “from one of the primates that brought you Shrek“, either. The only thing it has in common, really, is that it’ll leave you feeling as grumpy as that film’s central character.
Running time: 81mins
UK DVD Release: December 1, 2008