Sam Strange Remembers: PLANET OF THE APES (The Other One)

Sam Strange remembers the time he made an original movie about talking monkeys. And that’s just Mark Wahlberg.

Wow! I’m so happy you guys all seem to be loving my Planet of the Apes movie! As you can probably imagine, a lot of heart and soul went into this one, and I’m relieved to find I didn’t waste three weeks of my life on something people don’t care for.

The original Planet of the Apes idea came from a novel by some French guy named Poutine À La Breadboule. I walked by the book in a grocery store once and I just knew I had to make a movie with that same title. It sounds silly at first, but as audiences showed this weekend, once you get past the odd concept, there’s a lot of profitable social commentary to mine from a planet where apes rule and humans are slaves. Through the film, I was able to make statements on race, gun control, and vegetarianism among other things. I’m just a humble entertainer, but if I can turn even one person into an apefleshetarian, I’ve done my job.

So the main guy in this film is played by Marc Wahlberg. With a face constantly marked by befuddled concern and a voice dripping with out of breath Boston sincerity, Marc Wahlberg is only truly effective when playing really mad and/or stupid guys. If you try to put him in a movie as just a regular dude, he comes off as a five year old bully whining that he can’t find his bb gun, and people laugh their asses off. This seemed like a decent quality, however, for a guy who suddenly finds himself stranded on an ape planet.

Wahlberg is on a spaceship which is part of the Airforce since NASA doesn’t exist in the future. He and a lot of other Airforce people are on a mission to just fly around space and see if anything bad happens. If it does, they have a bunch of chimpanzees to send out and face dangers in their stead.

Here we come across some social commentary already. See, everyone on the ship uses the word “monkey”. But they aren’t monkeys. They’re chimpanzees. Chimpanzees aren’t monkeys, they’re a TYPE of monkey. Show some respect.

The Airforce ship comes across a sci-fi cloud that puts television from the 1990s onto their computer screens, and they send a monkey into it. When the monkey disappears, warning them not to enter, Marc Wahlberg ditches his military discipline and goes to save his chimp. When Wahlberg disappears, the entire Airforce spaceship ditches its military discipline and goes to save its Wahlberg. All three parties get sent to different times.

Wahlberg’s pod crash lands on a nearby planet, and before he can get his bearings, he and a bunch of strange cave people are being chased by a bunch of apes. Because the apes can hang upside down, gallop like horses, and jump really really far, all the humans are quickly rounded up and thrown into burlap sacks. There are two humans of note. One, Hot Human, is played by a pre-9/11 Megan Fox. The other, Hot Human’s Dad, is played by Meryl Streep with a beard and no makeup.

Let’s talk about apes for a moment. “Ape” is the scientific nomenclature for any monkey smart enough to talk and want to kill humans. Since this movie is called Planet of the Apes and not Planet of the Monkeys, I think we can safely say Marc Wahlberg is in some deep shit. He’ll come across all kinds of different apes: one who wants to sell him, one that wants to respect him, one that wants to fuck him, one that wants to know if he has a soul in his mouth, etc. But most of them just want to kill his ass.

The apes come in three flavors: chimpanzee, orangutang, and gorilla. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to inject some more social commentary into my film by applying a limiting stereotype to each one. Therefore, the gorillas represent black people, the orangutans represent politicians, and the chimpanzees represent human beings.

The main bad guy ape, Thade, is especially bloodthirsty. Thade was a chimpanzee who raised himself in the Australian Outback by eating human babies out of the stomachs of dingos. He really hated humans, mostly because they always tasted so much like dingo shit. I was lucky enough to borrow Thade from Steve Irwin before he had the animal terminated. Thade ate a lot of our scenery, and he once took a pretty big chunk out of Glenn Shadix, but it was worth it. I’ve never seen a villain growl and hiss so much in my life, and I’ve worked with William Forsythe thrice.

So militant gorillas deliver all the captured humans to the Paul Giamatti Ape, who plans on selling them as servants or pets. Wahlberg aint having none of that shit. Soon a Hippie Apette shows up to bug the Paul Giamatti ape about eating meat, voting republican, and treating his humans like animals. Wahlberg thanks her by shoving a fire poker by her face. This woos her completely and she takes him home. Even though she’s all about human rights, when the lights go out it’s all cunnalingus all the time. If he wants to get off too, he’s completely welcome to go take care of it in the corner.

It’s funny. The humans in this movie can talk, but they’re still just cave people. Marc Wahlberg could totally blow the apes’ minds by explaining Tivo or something, but he chooses to stay silent. By this time, we’re already about an hour in and he’s only said two words. Hippie Apette doesn’t think he’s special because of some brilliant shit he said at all. She just looks at him and interprets his angrily confused facial expressions as especially Wahlgbergian, which means he much be cultured in some unknown way.

Even when the apes all go to bed and it’s just Wahlberg and the other slave humans, he doesn’t want to talk to him. This makes it especially difficult for Hot Human to strike up a romance with him. Luckily, if you put a handsome guy and a hot girl in a film together, people automatically make the romance happen in their head, kind of like one of those optical illusions where your eyes make a full image when only suggestive lines are shown.

Pretty soon Wahlberg breaks out of his cage and takes off with not only his fellow humans but Hippie Apette and her personal gorilla guard as well. Their escape shows us finally what Ape City looks like.

Ape City is actually only nine houses arranged in a tight grid, none of which have a fourth wall. It resembles Hollywood Squares somewhat. That’s because I used the Hollywood Squares set. This really helped Glenn Shadix feel right at home. I don’t believe he was ever on the show, but he was tailor made for it, and he knew it.

Instead of running on the ground, the escapees run through everyone’s house. We catch a lot of ape culture this way. We see two apes just before they have sex, one ape rubbing cat litter on his armpits, some teenager apes smoking a bong and watching TV; we even get to see a random Apette’s tits as she takes a bubble bath.

Wahlberg and company escape the city and head toward his space ship so Wahlberg can retrieve his space gun and space tracker, which tells him where his Airforce space buddies are. It turns out they’re on the planet already, so he hikes toward them.

Some interesting small talk happens during their journey. For instance, Hippie Apette asks about how apes are treated on his planet. Rather than placate an ally, Wahlberg casually lists a shit load of human-to-ape atrocities as if we talking to a bunch of poacher buds: “Well the apes we didn’t wipeout with deforestation, we dress them up and make them smoke cigarettes cause it’s funny. Or we put them in zoos where little kids shake their wieners at them and sometimes pee in their faces. That’s just America. In China I heard they eat ape testicles for virility. And there’s this one place called the Temple of Doom where they slurp up ape brains from their ape skulls like they was bowls.”

Soon they arrive at Wahlberg’s big spaceship where his entire crew appears to have died centuries before. The wormhole was not so kind to them. Through some jumbled crew vlogs, Wahlberg ascertains that the ship’s apes went berserk and killed all the humans, so they could start their own civilization. In short, this whole smart-ape ordeal was Wahlberg’s fault all along. He looks sad about it for a moment, then gets back to his Hippie Apette/Hot Human interspecies three-way.

But his happiness is short lived. Every human on the planet has heard of this Wahlbergian guy who defied the apes, so they come to pay homage to him. Meanwhile, all the apes on the planet hear of this highly Wahlbergian guy, too, and they all come to kick his ass. Though, he doesn’t want anything to do with anyone, Wahlberg realizes he must organize a battle if he wants to get back to banging a chick with four hands.

To fight the ape army, Wahlberg gets everyone to hid behind his spaceship. When the apes gallop close enough, he ignites one of three gas tanks and blows them up. Once he uses all three shots, things devolve into a jumbled mess of people hitting apes in the head with sticks and apes hyperactively pounding people in the chest with their stinking paws (no TP on Ape Planet).

At this point, Thane and Wahlberg have a little fight which Thade wins without breaking a sweat. He’s about till kill the Wahlberg when a new spaceship lands amid the chaos. A little chimp comes out of the pod and runs to Wahlberg. It’s his chimp from the beginning of the film, finally through his wormhole! To the apes, though, this little chimp is like Jesus Christ returned. They all stop fighting and bow in reverence. And just like Jesus, the little chimp looks at their bank books and shoots all the rich ones in the head.

While all this is going on, Thade runs into the big ship and rides it into outerspace. It’s up to Wahlberg to leave behind all the people he inspired and chase him through the wormhole. This takes him back to present day earth where everyone is an ape and Thade himself adorns the Lincoln Memorial.


(three stars)