Congo (1995)

Directed By: Frank Marshall

Starring: Dylan Walsh, Laura Linney, Ernie Hudson, Tim Curry, Joe Don Baker, Grant Heslov

and Bruce Campbell







Hmmm...it looks like our movie poster is experiencing technical difficulties.





If there's one thing I notice about movies is that whenever a popular movie is out, some douche bag has to copy that film's formula with a lower budget or with a poorly-written script.










In this case, we have to go back to 1993's Jurassic Park. Jurassic Park was a tremendous success back when it was in theatres and went on to be Steven Spielberg's biggest hit to this day.
Since then, several films based on Michael Crichton novels were made with trailers promoting, "Hey! This is a movie based on a novel written by the guy who wrote Jurassic Park! WATCH IT!".











Save for The Lost World, the rest of the films that were based on Crichton's novels were poorly recieved and bombed at the box office. Frank Marshall's 1995 Congo film is one of them. Aside from Roger Ebert, who actually liked the film, critics lambasted the film for it's sheer silliness. It's true that this film is silly, unless you can take a line like "STOP EATING MY SESAME CAKE!" seriously. But really, that's what makes it fun to watch. Sure, it's not as good as Jurassic Park, but it's still a time-burner well worth it. It's funny, adventurous, and most importantly, funny. Did I mention it was funny?





"Take THIS, Rotten Tomatoes!"




WHAT'S THE FILM ABOUT?

A young scientist (Walsh) teaches a gorilla named Amy to speak with sign-language (complete with laughable translator that looks like the Power Glove). In a desperate attempt to return Amy to her home, the scientist is accompanyed by a communication technology employee (Linney) who's searching for a diamond that could save her company, and a greedy Romanian fruitcake (Curry) who wants to find an ancient diamond mine lost in the jungle.



WHAT'S GOOD ABOUT IT?

Easily the best thing about the film is Ernie Hudson's performance. He has that suave Clark Gable charisma and never breaks out of that character, even when in danger. He keeps his cool even when shooting at "albino apes" (yeah, I'm not kidding). Don't you wish action stars like Jason Staham nowadays had the charisma of legendary movie actors like Humprey Bogart?

Yeah, me neither.



Live from the Congo jungle, it's LAURA LINNEY LIVE!




Amy wanders away from the camp to try to get a role in Monkey Trouble.



The gorillas, created by legendary make-up artist Stan Winston, are also pretty cool, too. They look kinda life-like, but you'd think that with any of the money in the film's budget, the director could've gotten REAL gorillas for the film?


Also, this is truly an ideal film for me. I've always been into adventure films that take our heroes deep into a forbidden jungle or temple, like Raiders Of The Lost Ark, because they give you a variety of genres. Comedy, adventure, romance, drama, and mystery. Aside from romance, this movie has all the requirements of a Saturday-matinee-style adventure, which makes this film more enjoyable.


WHAT'S BAD ABOUT IT?

Tim Curry's performance. It's good for some laughs, but he practically has no point in being here. He does have a reason to be around in about the third act, when he explains his plan to find the diamind mine, but before that, he's sorta set aside for other sub-plots to continue. But with all of that said, it's still totally worth it to see Curry speak like Boris from Rocky And Bullwinkle.

Around the final part of the movie, where our heroes get to the diamond mine, the film starts to drag. It just goes on and on when it could've easily been wrapped up in less than 15 minutes. But they just HAD to give the killer albino apes more depth and suspense, even though they just end up JUMPING INTO A POOL OF LAVA!




"Yes, Amy. That's a penis."




If the camera were to go to the left a bit further, they might run into Jeff Goldblum analyzing dino-shit.





Keith Richards, NO!




BOTTOM LINE:

Congo may be silly and sometimes completly unrealistic (killer albino apes? Really?), but that's what makes it more fun. It's overlong, but it's saved from some good action bits here and a great performance by Ernie Hudson. If you're interested in getting some (unintentional) laughs, this is the one for you.


OVERALL SCORE:

4/5



See ya, and remember, STOP EATING MAH SESAME CAKE!


Coming up next: Be sure not to run out of bubblegum while kicking ass...