4th April 2007

Monkeys, Go Home!

Today, I would like to discuss one of the true classics of the Disney live action canon: Monkeys, Go Home! This 1967 film has it all… monkeys* — four of them, and they’re <dramatic echo>SPACE MONKEYS</dramatic echo> … Dean Jones … ’60s protests … Love, Frenchy Style … and as if that weren’t enough (no, stop! no, really!) … Maurice! Chevalier! And! The! Title! Ends! In! An! Exclamation! Point! Can you feel the hilarity?! So zany!!!

*phew* … I’ll take it down a notch or two now, before someone reaches through the screen to throttle me.

Dean Jones puts his chimps to work, in Disney's "Monkeys Go Home!"
Dean Jones puts his chimps to work, in Disney’s "Monkeys Go Home!"

Alright now, where was I? Oh yes. Monkeys, Go Home. I mean, Monkeys, Go Home!. In this delightful, fun for the whole family maybe some of the family film, Dean Jones plays Henry Dussard, an American who has just inherited an olive farm he has never seen, in the south of France. Ooh la la! Being an American, he’s got some nutty ideas about how to turn this olive farm into a profitable venture — by hiring chimps instead of people to work the farm. Luckily, he previously was a chimp trainer for NASA, so he’s got a team of recently-retired space chimps at his disposal. So wacky!

In the '60s, even the chimps were protesting
In the ’60s, even the chimps were protesting

The little French town doesn’t like the idea of having to compete against a chimp-run farm, and they mount an underground resistance against Dussard. The chimps strike back by mounting a protest of their own, fighting for their right to work just as humans do. At the same time, a boozy French broad shows up claiming to be Dussard’s long-lost cousin (and she is truly fabulous, played by Yvonne Constant), staking claim to half of Dussard’s farm, and threatening Dussard’s budding relationship with a barely-legal French tartlet, played by Yvette Mimieux.

Maurice Chevalier, with the French corner of It's a Small World
Maurice Chevalier, with the French corner of It’s a Small World

And just for good measure, Maurice Chevalier plays the town priest, who shows up now and then to impart some heavily-accented wisdom, and sing a song or two.

This is quite possibly the slapstickiest, monkeyest, wacknuttiest of all the Disney films. The hilarity, it ensues. This film… well, it’s sort of the Disney version of the Star Wars Holiday Special. I can’t help but wonder why they’ve released it on DVD, but I’m so glad they did. I kind of love it.

Oh! The music! The music is the best part, and I’m not kidding around here — I would sincerely buy Robert F. Brunner’s soundtrack/score. It’s great ’60s light-quirk-funk-pop stuff.

* Technically, chimps aren’t monkeys, but for the sake of simplicity, today we’ll say they are. It’s Topsy-Turvy day! Shrimp are fish! Tomatoes are vegetables! Mama’s Family was funny!

There are currently 8 responses to “Monkeys, Go Home!”

  1. 1 On April 4th, 2007, swankola said:

    Why can’t I inherit an olive farm in the south of France? I think I vaguely recall seeing this movie as a kid. Or maybe I’m thinking of The Monkey’s Uncle. In any case, thanks for the memories.

  2. 2 On April 4th, 2007, MrBaliHai said:

    Uh-oh. Humu’s been sniffin’ Disney glue again.

  3. 3 On April 4th, 2007, Humuhumu said:

    Again? Honey, I’ve got a Disney glue feedbag stapled to my head.

    I haven’t seen Monkey’s Uncle yet, but I want to. I’ve got the theme song on one of my Disney compilations, and I’ve caught myself singing it on more than one occasion. I generally have a no-monkey-movies rule, but I made an exception for Monkeys, Go Home! because the title is almost a double-dog-dare for monkey movie haters. And I am weak in the face of such masterful playground posturing.

  4. 4 On April 4th, 2007, Tiki-Kate said:

    I’m embarrassed to admit that despite my much touted hatred of monkeys, I actually own the novel that the movie was based on. Strangely, I also own The Misadventures of Merlin Jones and The Monkeys Uncle on VHS. (I adored Annette Funicello when I was in my twenties. I think it’s because she always managed to end up with Tim Considine. He was a 1950s teen hottie.)

  5. 5 On April 5th, 2007, Humuhumu said:

    Ha ha… I was wondering which would win out, the monkey-hate or the Disney-love.

    What would you do if Tim Considine asked you to watch his monkey? (And not in a euphemism-y way.)

  6. 6 On April 6th, 2007, Tiki-Kate said:

    Seeing as Tim is now 66 years old, I think I’ll be steering clear of both him and his monkey (if he has one.) Now if he were thirty years younger… I have been known to do some very stupid things for very cute guys.

  7. 7 On April 21st, 2007, Humuhumu said:

    Okay, now this is awesome… I just got this email from Yvonne Constant’s webmaster:

    Yvonne Constant was ecstatic to read your review of Monkeys Go Home! She send her thanks and gratitude.

  8. 8 On October 31st, 2011, Evans said:

    This is one of my four or five favorite movies of all time, along with Gladiator and African Queen. I know, somewhat of an odd trio of films. But its light, funny, happy and takes me to a place completely free of worries. Plus it has that incredible smile of Yvette Mimieux!