FILM REVIEW
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PHOTO: GLENN CAMPBELL

APE over APES

continued


Tim Roth as General Thade before & after Ape Makeup

Tim Roth must have graduated from Ape School with top honors. His General Thade is a chimp with a major chip on his shoulder about those smelly humans who don't even groom. He leaps, he swings, he snorts, he snarls, he froths at the mouth. He's an anti-human warmonger, utterly without shame ("extremism in defense of apes is no vice!" is one of his lines, with apologies to Barry Goldwater). Thade is pretty sexy in a creepy über-apish way, his hairy muscles rippling beneath his gleaming gladiator armor as he swaggers forth, determined to apply his version of a Final Solution to the Human Problem. Roth, as well as his right-hand gorilla, Michael Clarke Duncan, and a parade of other simian warriors wage impressive Great Ape battles, though occasionally they look more like the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz than anything approximating a real ape. Actually, one of the smaller chimps looks remarkably like a certain human American president…


Check out bushorchimp.com for more pix of our prez & his cuzzins
(with apologies to the apes)

The most captivating performance in the movie is Helena Bonham-Carter's winsome Ari, the "human rights" activist daughter of an old, well-connected chimp senator (David Warner).

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Usually seen playing a romantic Victorian damsel in a Merchant-Ivory movie, here Bonham-Carter skillfully uses her sultry, kohl-rimmed eyes, peering through mounds of latex, to convey a unique simian sensitivity. With subtle, sensuous gestures and glances, she even accomplishes the feat of making a chimpanzee sexy (at least to this human)!

Helena Bonham-Carter as Ari the
Sexy "Human Rights" Activist Chimp

And she goes beyond adorable when she writes with a pen between her painted, prehensile toes.


Chimp/Victorian

She also injects the taboo thrill of interspecies lust into the proceedings. Ari definitely has the hots for the human Leo. Of course, so does dumb blonde Daena. Leo isn't much interested in either of them, focused as he is, like Dorothy in Oz, on getting far, far away from those "damn dirty apes." Though he's not above using both human and ape females to help him make his escape. And he does inspire them both to a kind of revolution within their society. Ari and Daena exchange a few intriguing jealous glances. But this interspecies lust triangle is woefully underdeveloped in Burton's Planet. This is even more of a waste than not getting to see either Wahlberg or Warren naked.

Towards the end, Captain Leo does deign to give females of both species one kiss-on-the-lips each, slipping a little tongue to human dish Daena. Even so, most of the folks in our audience were rooting for him to ride off into the starset with Bonham-Carter's charming ape-girl. That could be because this was a press screening, and film critics are much more perverted than the average viewer. But it's also due to Bonham-Carter's seductive style.


Pre-Kiss Eye Contact Between Dull But Tasty Humans

Ari is so sensuous that she's practically a bonobo. But she's too submissive to both ape and human males to be a bonobo. She's more like a common chimp female, subtle and manipulative. Bonobo females are very up-front and aggressive, even dominant sometimes with both males and other females, especially with regard to sex.


Bonobo females do the hoka-hoka Photo: Franz Lanting/from Bonobo
When they have lesbian sex, rubbing their swollen vulvas against each other, called hoka-hoka, they orgasm ecstatically. They do this often, at least as often as they have sex with the males, which is very often. Unlike Ape City, bonobo culture is not a fantasy. It's happening on this planet right now, though it's highly endangered.

Which brings me to my biggest personal beef with Burton's Planet: There are no bonobos! Burton and crew give us fantastic renditions of the other Great Apes: the versatile common chimpanzees, the commanding gorillas and the wily orangutans. But he completely ignores the "make love, not war" ape: the sexual, peaceable bonobo.

Is this woeful omission due to negligence (since bonobos are so rare)? Is it because Burton wants to focus on the lethal side of apes, and bonobos totally contradict this view of apes as essentially violent, domineering primates?

Or is it because bonobos are just too sexy with a capital X for this neo-prudish, how-
dare-you-ask-me-to-take-off-
my-clothes-when-its-not-
in-
my-contract Planet?
Whatever the excuse, it's a shame for us ape lovers.


Bonobos Make Love Face to Face
Photo: Franz Lanting/from BONOBO

So next, maybe as a kind of sequel, let's have a Planet of the Bonobos! Now that would be exciting. It would be corny, of course, but then all of these ape flicks are corny. Let's say a human astronaut--maybe it should be a female this time--crash-lands in a strange new world where apes, humans and ape-human hybrids co-mingle peaceably and pleasurably. In this world, the humans have difficulty reproducing on their own (let the script-committee figure out why), so the bonobos outnumber the humans 10 to 1. About 80% of the population is bonobo-human hybrids. The rest are pure bonobos, the original ethical hedonists.

Sex and sensuality are everywhere. There are virtually no racial, social, species or gender boundaries on Planet Bonobo. Little alliances and jealousies occur, but for the most part, everyone has sex with virtually everyone else. Orgies are as common as barbeques. Politicians are elected on the basis of their sexual prowess. A Sexual Olympics, featuring the most virile and attractive performers in every erotic activity, is held every four years. Porn stars are held in the same high esteem that we hold professional athletes. Those who won't have sex in public, for whatever reason, are looked upon with pity and disdain. Sex is purchased, bartered or given away freely. Gifts of sex are given regularly as charity. There is some violence among the inhabitants of the Bonobo Planet, but murder is rare and war does not exist. Guns and other lethal weapons are outlawed. On the Planet of the Bonobos (as in real-life bonobo communities), different forms of sex are used to reduce hostile tension.

Into this crazy sexual world tumbles our lady astronaut (call her Jane). At first, she's duly horrified by the horny apes and their human and half-human cousins. She's scared. She disgusted. She's weirded out by all the interspecies action. She also lost her male astronaut counterpart (call him Dick). When the "beasts" welcome Jane into their orgiastic society, she tries to run away, but there's nowhere to run to. She tries to find Dick, but she can't make contact. Finally, she falls for a sexy, hunky human-bonobo hybrid (call him Cheetah), a sensitive ape-man with an enticing overbite. He helps our Jane to relax and get into the swing of things on Planet Bonobo. Jane tosses off her astro-duds, "goes native," has the time of her life, and discovers the power of her sexuality, the power in giving and receiving pleasure with her new lover and all her sexy new neighbors. Even if they are kind of hairy.

Suddenly, just as Jane's getting settled into her new lifestyle, Dick appears (let the script-committee figure out how). Dick is even more appalled by Bonobo Planet behavior than Jane was, plus he's jealous because he's always had the hots for her. He tries to rescue her, but that only makes her realize she doesn't need rescuing, and she doesn't want to go home. She's happier than she's ever been right here among the bonobos. Dick tells her she'll regret not coming home with him as he fixes their broken space pod and gets ready to blast back home. But he can't make it work, and he almost kills himself - and almost blows up the Planet as well - trying, and it isn't long before he succumbs to the seductions of a bevy of bonobo nursemaids who heal his wounds (yes, they're also a little hairy, but super-sensuous, and totally unopposed to swallowing). Led by Cheetah and Jane in dismantling Dick's space pod bomb, the bonobos save their Planet, teach Dick the power of sharing pleasure, and everyone lives and screws happily ever after.

Hey, it's no sillier than Burton's Planet of the Apes. Now I just need to get Baker to make the masks and a chimp to write the script.



For more on bonobos, click here

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