Jeff Daniels, Patrick Warburton, Cheryl Hines, Kristin Chenoweth
Kirk De Micco
Kirk De Micco, Simon Goltsman
20th Century Fox
Okay, okay. That's not entirely true. Pixar is freaking awesome, while Vanguard Animation has, after a mere three feature films, managed to become the definition of cinematic mediocrity.
"Space Chimps" doesn't really suck. It's not good. It's not bad. It just exists. The problem is that it exists in a cinematic environment in which it is surrounded by the likes of the brilliant "Wall-E" and even the more modest but entertaining "Kung-Fu Panda."
The only thing entertaining about "Space Chimps" is an entertaining and spirited performance by Kristin Chenoweth ("RV") as Kilowatt, a quirky and adorable alien creature who is, unfortunately, a supporting player for these festivities.
Ham III (Andy Samberg, "Hot Rod") is an under-achieving circus chimp whose genetics would seem to indicate he could have been so much more. His late grandfather was the first chimp in space (Chimps went before humans, ya know?) and, because of this genetic link, a senator (Stanley Tucci) hunts Ham down to convince him to join two other serious space chimps (Patrick Warburton and Cheryl Hines) to space.
Eventually, Ham relents and, of course, nothing goes as planned leading to a grand, but not so entertaining, effort to save the undiscovered planet from an evil dictator (Jeff Daniels).
Vanguard Animation has also given us the under-achieving "Happily N'Ever After" and "Valiant," films that gained a bit of notoriety for their retro style but not much else.
The same is largely true here. "Space Chimps" is not cutting edge animation. In fact, the vast majority of folks are going to consider it not so much retro as simply sub-par.
"Space Chimps" features primitive animation, lame jokes abd disturbingly inadequate tech work including easily noticeable lip-syncing that doesn't match the animation.
Despite its sub-par animation and tech credits, "Space Chimps" does manage to avoid being a complete disaster and, largely owing to the voiceover work of Chenoweth and Daniels' turn as the vil dictator, "Space Chimps" is occasionally endearing and, by the end, a film that may very well entertain smaller children. One must hope, however, that these same small children don't catch on to the film's occasional double entendre, a surprising fact given the film's G-rating.
Easily the weakest of Summer 2008's animated entries, "Space Chimps" is likely headed for a brief trip through wide-release followed by a more successful life on home video.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic