There is a billboard. Iterations of it are everywhere. It’s for an upcoming movie. That movie is
. The billboard is magical. Wonderful. Epic, as the kids would say. It features a digitized but very realist image of a dystopian future. The Golden Gate Bridge smolders in the background, missing a sizable portion of its midsection. In the middle background, a group of glowering gorillas looks out at the billboard’s onlookers. The gorillas are steely. Mean. Scary. Ready to kill and to steal beer. Featured prominently in the middle of this billboard is an impressive, sweating, sputtering black steed, captured mid-gallop, barreling toward an unseen assailant. On the back of this noble animal is a full-grown chimpanzee. It rides the horse like an expert, like an old friend of all things equine. The chimpanzee is enraged, exhilarated, full of the wind of battle. It howls in warlike frenzy, happy to be lost in the primal violence of his primate brain. He hoists above his head a rifle, prepared to kill, should the situation call for it.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Apes are inherently amusing, and it’s difficult to explain why. Chimps are typically dangerous animals, known for their hot tempers. They look vaguely human, if the human’s face were decrepit and inscrutable. They are scary a lot of the time, and yet we tend to cast them as comedians in movies. We put them on skates, give them cigars, and
, and we snicker at their human similarities. They are akin to monsters we treat like party clowns. And there’s something silly, fun, and amusing about that. So when an ape brandishes a rifle, we perhaps have an unconscious pang of recognition; we know that this is what that chimp has always secretly wanted.
force them to wash cats
The litany of cool stuff done by apes in movies is long and varied. Each one taps into what apes and monkeys
really want from the world. When we see a chimp do something oddly human-like, they are fulfilling their only known destiny. They are becoming whole. Let CraveOnline walk you through some of the best monkey dreams committed to film. What can apes and monkeys do? And what do they really want to do?
Witney Seibold is the head film critic for
, and a contributor on the Nerdist , and co-host of CraveOnline Film Channel . You can read his weekly The B-Movies Podcast Trolling articles here on Crave, and follow him on “Twitter” at , where he is slowly losing his mind. @WitneySeibold
When Apes Do Cool Stuff
Kill Humans with a Gun
Movie: The Lawnmower Man (1992)
What the Ape Does: Wearing a RoboCop helmet, a chimpanzee escapes an experiment wherein he is being mentally enhanced and militarily trained by a virtual reality machine. He steals a gun and shoots several humans in the head before fleeing into the safety of the suburbs, and into the brief care of Jobe, a local simpleton. Sadly, this cyber-chimp is captured and killed.
Movie: Ed (1996)
What the Ape Does: Although not ready for the major league, a trained chimpanzee becomes a third baseman for a minor league baseball team. Matt LeBlanc plays the human baseball player, shamed from an earlier career mishap, who learns to have faith in the chimp. Chimpanzees love baseball. Ain't no rule says a chimpanzee can't play baseball.
Kill Humans with a Razor
Movie: Money Shines (1988)
What the Monkey Does: There is a very real phenomenon of “helper monkeys” in medical circles. Like seeing-eye dogs, helper monkeys are trained primates who are taught to retrieve objects and operate simple machines for the benefit of the extremely infirm. In Monkey Shines, a quadriplegic man is given a helper monkey named Ella who quickly becomes attached to the man. So much so, in fact, that all people to threaten her master are fodder for the slaughter. Ella brandishes a straight razor with the best of them. She's so full of love.
Play Hockey and Ride Skateboards and Ride Snowboards
Movies: MVP: Most Valuable Primate (2000), MVP: Most Vertical Primate (2001), and MXP: Most Xtreme Primate (2004)
What the Ape Does: Jack, a spiritual brother of Air Bud, stumbles into the ice one day, and learns that he has a natural aptitude for hockey. Aided by a deaf girl and her enthused brother, Jack becomes a chimp champ. But his talents do not stop there. Jack also has an eye for skateboards. Having been ousted for misconduct, Jack wanders into the city and befriends skateboard enthusiasts. Eventually, he finds himself in Colorado, snowboarding with the best of them. I think he should try motocross next.
Kill Humans with His Bare Hands
Movie: King Kong (1933)
What the Ape Does: The world's most famous ape, King Kong, is an enormous gorilla monster who towers over humans. And what does a giant gorilla monster do when he's abducted from his island paradise and shipped off to New York? Anything he wants. That involves manhandling a pretty lady, climbing a tall building, and swatting down airplanes with his bare hands. Kong has a lot of reasons to be angry, and his killing of humans is perhaps a form of inter-species justice. King Kong is the avenging angel for apes everywhere. He is the fallen messiah they worship.
Movie: Project X (1987)
What the Ape Does: Sadly, a chimp does not steal a fighter plane and bomb the human facility that trained it. But you know he would if he could. A candid military experiment involves putting chimps in flight simulators to test their mettle, exposing them to radiation. Y'know, to see how long they would survive in the case of a nuclear attack. In the film, the chimps eventually escape the cruel experiments. But you just know that they retained their flight skills, and that they really wanted to fly planes.
Kill All of Humanity with Viruses
Movie: Outbreak (1995)
What the Monkey Does: The monkey contracts a rare virus in Africa, is kidnapped, and shipped to America where the virus begins to spread. The monkey doesn't really know that it's spreading the disease around. Or does it? There is a scene wherein the monkey takes a big swig of water, swishes it around in it's diseased mouth, and spits it right into Patrick Dempsey's face. I'd say that's a vengeful and knowing little critter.
Talk and Drink Martinis
Movie: Congo (1995)
What the Ape Does: '95 was a good year for apes. Amy is a gorilla that has been taught sign language. Thanks to a widget on her wrist, Amy's signs are vocalized, making her the world's first talking primate. Because she can communicate, and because she is so well-behaved, Amy gets to ride on planes with humans, and share their booze. Amy is one classy chick.
Trash a Hotel
Movie: Dunston Checks In (1996)
What the Ape Does: An orangutan named Dunston checks into a fancy hotel and wrecks the place like Johnny Depp. Dunston doesn't care about nothing, man. He is an anarchist. He is only interested in partying and wild abandon. I think Dunston represents the id. Free. Unfettered. Totally happy. And with impeccable taste in hotels.
Steal from Humans
Movie: Monkey Trouble (1994)
What the Monkey Does: Steals valuables. A little Capuchin monkey named Dodger find himself in the company of a nine-year-old girl, stealing things for her. Dodger knows where the good stuff is, too, targeting jewelry and gold. Dodger is eventually trained not to steal. In a way, this is a film about a young girl breaking the spirit of a monkey.
Give the Finger
Movie: Every Which Way But Loose (1978)
What the Ape Does: Clyde, one of movie-doms most famous orangutans, acts as the brash sidekick to Philo, a loose-livin' trucker. If you've ever seen these movies on a Sunday afternoon when you're really drunk, you may suspect that your mind has fallen away, and madness has wrapped its terrifying comforting arms around you. Anyway, Clyde flips off the camera at one point. I wonder if he needed to be trained. Probably not.
Kill Humans with Nazis
Movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
What the Monkey Does: In Cairo, one of the Third Reich's most insidious spies was a little monkey in a vest. It knew how to chase people down, alert his Nazi overlords, and even heil Hitler. This film is definitive scientific proof that monkeys can have political allegiances, and that they are no mere conscientious objectors in wartime. An Egyptian monkey is a Nazi. And I think he joined the party of his own volition.
Be a Spy
Movie: Spymate (2006)
What the Ape Does: A chimp named Minky (presumably getting his name from Inspector Clouseau) teams up with an old partner to rescue his partner's daughter on what will amount to be their final job together. Apes don't just want to wield weapons and work for the government, but on a more metaphysical level, long for the “buddy cop” dynamic they have seen in films and on TV.
Meet Bela Lugosi
Movie: Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952)
What the Apes Does: Ordinarily, when two bumbling fools land on a deserted jungle island, the inevitable gorilla will be native to that island. This gorilla came along with the two bumbling fools. And who should be on that island but horror superstar Bela Lugosi! I like to think that the Brooklyn gorilla knew that Bela Lugosi was going to be there, and that she crashed the ship on purpose.
Movie: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
What the Ape Does: Caesar, an intelligent ape spawned of other intelligent apes from the distant future, finds himself in a world where apes have becomes humans' preferred pets, and also their domestic servants. As the only intelligent ape on the planet, Caesar is the only one who can plot revenge, but he soon finds that his ape brethren most certainly feel the oppression and the outrage. He stages an armed coup that will lead to the downfall of humanity. Go Caesar.