'Spymate' (April 17, 2006)
"Spymate" is just the latest chimp movie from that venerated hyphenate Robert Vince, the writer-director-producer behind the "Most Valuable Primate" films, and the "Air Bud" movies, and "Most Extreme Primate" -- you know, pretty much any Canadian picture where they put an animal in a sports uniform, tell him to stare at something positioned just out of frame, and cut in a couple of B-grade actors pretending to react to the critter's wacky antics.
Now, if any of these movies was produced with something approaching skill or intelligence, it might be worth talking about. But Vince just cranks out cynical product on an assembly line, with terrible scripts, cheap production values, bad effects and an overall disregard for anything that might smack of creativity or entertainment.
I know, I know: This is a movie about a secret-agent chimpanzee who, a decade after retiring from the espionage biz, gets pulled back into the game to rescue the brainy young daughter (Emma Roberts, daughter of Eric, niece of Julia) of his ex-partner (Chris Potter) from a scheming scientist ("The Wild" voice artist Richard Kind). Who's demanding quality?
The thing is, it's possible to make great family entertainment that doesn't presume the audience is either stupid or asleep -- consider the first two "Spy Kids" movies, or "Curious George," or even "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Then consider watching them again, instead of this sorry excuse for a motion picture.
Buena Vista's enhanced-widescreen DVD offers a single extra: "Spymate: Behind the Scenes," a seven-minute featurette that turns out to be quite detailed about the elaborate chimp effects, given its abbreviated running time. So that's something.
STUDIO: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2006
TIME: 84 minutes
DVD EXTRAS: French audio dub; English subtitles; production featurette.
INTERNET SITE: video.com