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When Life Gives You A Murderous Monkey, Laugh
by Samantha Capps

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I Googled 'Olympic diving' and got this. Bahahahaha!

I Googled 'Olympic diving' and got this. Bahahahaha!
Today's column is a bit of experiment. Rather than continue with the typical opinionated spiel, I am playing around with a narrative-based exposition with the goal of exploring the relationships of movies with everyday life, specifically my everyday life, because that's the only everyday life on which I can claim authority.

So my most significant love interest since graduating from college back in December—someone I don't want a relationship with anymore but who I will miss horribly anyway—moved to the other side of the country last weekend, and in response I called one of my best friends and told her, "Please let's do something tonight. I need something to take him off my mind."

She couldn't come over until eight, so I occupied myself by knitting, drinking tea, and watching two episodes of the second season of Louie on Netflix and Olympic diving on NBC. What is it about watching others struggle and fight that takes us away from our problems? Or rather, it's not that it takes us away, rather that we see ourselves in the stories playing on the television and know that we are not alone.

Louis CK makes the best of his post-divorce life by being, arguably, the best father in the history of television. When a comedian friend tells Louis that he's going to kill himself after a lifetime of failure unless Louis can tell him why he should keep living, Mr. CK says, "No, I'm not playing that. I'm not doing it. I've got my reasons to live, and I worked hard to figure out what they are, and I'm not just handing them to you. You want a reason to live? Then have a drink of water, get some sleep, and wake up tomorrow and try again like everybody else does," and I know that, yes, ultimately I am alone, but there are other people who understand what it means to live in a world that is constantly threatening meaninglessness. And then seeing the diving girls in London give their best reminds me of the importance of trying. Three of them won medals. Many more went home with empty hands. I admire them all. And besides my sentimentalism, Louis CK is hilarious and the divers move beautifully in the air and
Aw. The monkey's really cute actually, until all the bloodshed starts.

Aw. The monkey's really cute actually, until all the bloodshed starts.
my tea was pleasantly warm and overall I felt very content. Yay!

My friend eventually came over, and we decided to watch a movie, but not before driving to the local Wal-Mart for snacks. As we scoured through sodas and cookies, I vented and bitched about my ex and everything I hated about him and everything I loved about him and why I was sad he was gone and why I was so glad he was finally gone. And she listened like the good friend she is, even as I shouted out TMI details of my personal life in check out line number 14 for all of our Wal-Mart shopper brethren to hear.

Back home, we browsed the horror movies available for Instant Watch on Netflix and settled on a film by NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD creator Roger A. Romero by the title of MONKEY SHINES. I've seen this film on the Instant Watch list since I got Netflix four years ago, which is a prime indicator that it's an unknown flop.

Monkey Shines tells the story of an incredibly athletic man—we get a glorious ass shot within two minutes of the opening, just so the audience knows, THIS GUY IS FIT!—who seems to have the perfect body and the perfect girlfriend and the perfect life. Mr. Fancy Ass proceeds to strap on a backpack full of bricks and go for an idyllic morning run, until he is surprised by an aggressive dog, and by dodging out of the way, gets hit by a truck and loses all ability to move anything below his neck.

When Mr. I'm Sexy and I Know It's girlfriend dumps him for the surgeon that operated on him after his accident, the best friend of our hero tells him, "Fuck her," to which our now wheelchair-bound friend responds, "I can't."

Already this film was triggering one of my most intense fears, that of catching a disease or getting into an accident that prevents me from being mobile and independent enough to go for an outdoor stroll, or worse, from leaving a hospital bed. While at work the other day, I stumbled onto a story on Yahoo about a chick whose hair follicles have started growing fingernails, and as a result she can barely move, my response to which is "Where the hell is your god now?" Since high school, I've had
Monkey!

Monkey!
joint pains that no doctor can explain. I am currently only part time employed after leaving my job selling beer and meat after the constant moving of forty pound boxes of booze caused a recurrence of my old wrist, ankle, and knee pain. The thought that one day I won't be able to leave my bed without assistance is enough to bring on panic mode.

As it turns out, our sympathetic character on wheels's best friend is in the midst of performing horrible experiments on monkeys in order to make them super-intelligent. He then donates one of these super-intelligent monkeys to assist his friend in his daily life, and everyone is happy except for the live-in nurse who complains about all of the monkey poop around the house. Yay!

Except not yay. Turns out that having human intelligence means this monkey is also capable of love and jealousy. A brief summary of the rest of the film (SPOILER ALERT!): monkey kills people (oh come on, you knew it was coming), our paralyzed buddy gets a really awkward sex scene, there are long and not-very-thrilling chase scenes involving our hero trying to escape from the monkey by steering his wheelchair around at about 2 mph, and then, finally, the monkey is killed when our hero bites its neck and thrashes his head around until the monkey is deceased.

And then, in some kind of deus ex machina right out of a Lifetime movie, Mr. Fancy Wheels because Mr. Fancy Ass again and regains his ability to run around with bricks on his back and have likely much less awkward sex with his new girlfriend. Yay!

CESSATION OF SPOILER ALERT

Unlike Louie and the Olympics, I didn't see myself in any of these characters, nor could I see anything worth remembering in my daily life. I guess I know what not to do now if I am ever attacked by a murderous monkey. I know better than believe in the typical "And then everything became perfect again for our sexy hero" ending.

But I could not stop laughing. My friend and I gripped each other as we fell over in a laughing fit. My stomach hurt. My eyes were watering. Damn it felt good. If not catharsis, then let there be humor, oh gods of the movies.

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Nathan
Aug 23, 2012 5:28 PM
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Because of my timing in placing the comment on your previous column - combined with the technical difficulties this site was having the past few days - I'm going to attempt to cover both your response on the last column and the entirety of your newest column. I think I can make it happen.

I had no idea when I mentioned it that you'd have seen The Wall live too, much less the movie! It was a pretty amazing show, wasn't it? The movie's a lot more sinister and gloomy than the album or show, but there's no movie I can think of that's quite like it.

Pennies From Heaven is a really weird movie Steve Martin did in the early eighties. It was right after The Jerk, and it was a complete style-switch from what anybody would've expected him to do. It's a very depressing musical. Heavy Metal's an animated movie that's got early eighties rock songs all through it, kiiiiind of like The Wall? But only because of those characteristics - really it's not that similar. And American Pop is a new one on me me too. But I actually haven't heard of the other two you talked about in your column besides Dancer In The Dark, so I'll have to become more familiar with those. I've heard of Repo! The Genetic Opera, but I know nothing about it. It sounds insane, but if it has Paris Hilton in it, I'm not sure in a good way.

On to present subjects...

That's a really good couple of lines from that Louie episode. It would take some bravery for somebody to say that to somebody else, but there's a lot of truth to the words - and it's perfectly fitting with his style and approach.

I'm not sure what you mean by being "ultimately all alone," and I'm going to presume that I don't agree, but I know life can feel that way sometimes. I definitely agree with the next part, about living in a world that's constantly threatening meaninglessness.

I've known about Monkey Shines since it was released, but I've never seen it. It sounds hilarious. I'm trying to figure out which would be worse, being confined to a wheelchair, being chased by a killer monkey, or running with a backpack full of bricks. It's true though, from what I hear, these monkeys can be awfully brutal. Especially ones with syringes.

I hope you're feeling better in general, and I'm glad the movie helped. Also, that's a great first picture. He looks like he's turning into a donkey and is trying to keep his legs from sprouting hooves. As one would, I'm sure.
Samantha
Aug 24, 2012 5:34 PM
[X] delete
What, you think 'cause I'm young and female I'm too busy listening to Lady Gaga to care about Pink Floyd? Well, I saw her when she came to Charlotte, too, so that's too far off of an assumption...

With the risk of opening up a philosophical debate, by "ultimately alone" I didn't mean to disregard community and relationships among people. What I meant was that the individual is ultimately alone in his/her experiences because no one will ever have the same experiences as him/her. No matter how hard you try, no one will ever fully comprehend the world as you see it from your unique perspective. To paraphrase Louis CK, he's telling his friend, "Hey man, I care about you, and I really hope you don't off yourself, but I can't solve your life for you." The question of "Well, is it really worth me being here?" can only be answered by the individual.

Also, I can't say I know much about how the human spine works, but I can't imagine that running with a backpack of bricks could really be of any benefit... it sounds like a road leading straight to long-term chronic back pain. It seems like the worst of the three options, if you ask me.

And of course the movie helped. Now whenever I am feeling sad or stressed or annoyed, I just think "Well, at least I'm not being attacked by a monkey," and joyous optimism ensues.
Nathan
Aug 25, 2012 3:57 PM
[X] delete
Haha, funnily enough, I'm a Lady Gaga fan too.

Nope, no debate. When you said the "ultimately alone" thing, I did think you were talking about it in the sense of community and relationships. But I totally know what you mean about being "alone" in a certain sense. Each person's the only person they're guaranteed to be around 24/7/365, guaranteed. And it's ultimately up to each person how important it is that he/she stays around, much less prospers. In that sense everybody's their own responsibility and unto him/herself. So I agree with that.

I don't think I want to do anything with bricks but admire their texture and inhabit the sturdy structures they join together to provide. If you're going to run with weight strapped to you, I would think the idea is to distribute it evenly. I'm surprised it took a truck hitting the guy in the movie to make him an invalid if he was doing that!

I'm glad the "monkey attacking you" thought has brought you good cheer. I actually think there's a chance George Romero would accept that as the movie having some sort of merit! Maybe there should've been a sequel where there was a monkey zombie army. Just to make it a full circle back to Pink Floyd, how about "Shine On You Crazy Monkey?" There've been worse titles.



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Cinephilia
Every other Wednesday

I watch cinema the way most people eat sugar: constantly and without consideration that I could survive without it. Sometimes I like to write about it.


Other Columns
Other columns by Samantha Capps:

Sam Breaks Her Movie Theatre Fast

Awesome Movies I Have Never Seen and Never Will

How To Be Poor and Still Enjoy the Movies

How Movies Made Me Such A Scaredy-Cat Kid

Song and Dance and Murder

All Columns


Samantha Capps
I like movies, especially anything generally labeled “disturbing,” “bizarre,” or “trippy.” I collect movie posters but don't take very good care of them. I work in a library, which brings me much joy. I also like tea, dark beer, taking naps, and the art of conversation. I think the appreciation and creation of art, whether it be film or literature or music or anything, brings more meaning and value to the human experience than any other activities, which is my excuse for spending more time inside with movies and books than outside exercising and socializing.



Contact
If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Samantha Capps by clicking here.


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