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Comedy Movies - Inside Monkey Zetterland


Inside Monkey Zetterland
Steven Antin, Patricia Arquette, Sandra Bernhard
Sofia Coppola, Rupert Everett, Katharine Helmond
Directed by Jeferey Levy
Originally released 1992
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment 2007
93 minutes

If there is something I hate in an independent movie Inside Monkey Zetterland has it. This comedy (of sorts) is a collage of scenes where various actors who participated in the project get a good scene and then pretty much vanish. It features a quirky lead character with a quirky name, Monkey Zetterland (Steven Austin, lots of TV shows) who has a quirky family, quirky friends, quirky neighbors -there is nobody in this movie who is even close to normal-- and this is where the comedy is supposed to come from, forgetting the idea of story. Story, you know, the stuff that keeps you watching and interested.

Jefery Levy most certainly went to film school. This is why Inside Monkey Zetterland has obvious steals from directors like Woody Allen (the opening scene where Monkey is talking to his shrink while forty others listen in behind a one-way mirror) and Robert Altman (the supper scene where everybody is talking at once, one with her mouth full, so you can't really hear anything).

Unfortunately, Levy and writer and star Steven Antin forgot to go to the class where someone said it's not because it sounds cool that it is cool. Consequently, he indulges in things that just bug the viewer. An easy example is using background noise such as a car crash or car window breaking and a car alarm as background to a couple of scenes where a character appears.  There is someone honking repeatedly and yelling "you're going the wrong way!" in the scene where Sandra Bernhard is driving Monkey home -the whole going the wrong way goes nowhere. There are motorcycles roaring by and covering the dialogue in a scene between Bernhard and Antin

The basic story of Inside Monkey Zetterland is Monkey, a failed so far screenwriter, is working on a script about the auto industry eliminating public transport in L.A. in the fifties. He lives with his soap-opera actress mother (Katharine Helmond of Soap), his gay sister moves in after her girlfriend got pregnant, the new downstairs neighbors (Rupert Everett and Martha Plimpton) are a gay man and a journalist who works for a paper that outs gay celebrities and who turn out to be gar right terrorists, the father has a parrot on his shoulder, and at some point in time Monkey lip synchs to opera and cut to Sandra Bernhard, across the street, dressed as if she was on stage or at the opera, lip synching the other part in the opera. Then there are more one-off weird scenes and Monkey having a daydream scenes with show-off directorial and writing effects.

And so on and so on.  Oh, well. Guess that's why the cover art features a banana peel.

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