I have never been impressed with any of the animated movies made by Vanguard Animation. When it was founded by "Shrek" producer John H. Williams in 2002, it has produced several animated films and each one I have found terrible. Not a single animated movie they have made has worked and some of the films they have made I would go as far as calling some of the worst animated films ever made. Unfortunately, "Space Chimps" is yet another dud from the studio despite having a plethora of great talent working behind it. It may not be as unwatchable as their previous film "Happily N'Ever After", but it was still a hard animated movie for me to stomach.
When a NASA space probe called Infinity is sucked into a wormhole and crashes on a distant planet, it ends up in the hands of an evil alien on the planet named Zartog (Jeff Daniels). He ends up accidentally overriding the machine and begins using it to enslave the alien species living on the planet. Meanwhile on Earth, NASA scientists realize that losing the probe would cost a lot of money and not wanting to lose another penny, the supervisor (Stanley Tucci) decides to send chimps into space to retrieve it. They are Lt. Luna (Cheryl Hides) and Commander Titan (Patrick Warburton). However, to get the press more interested in the experiment, the supervisor gets the grandson chimp of Ham, the first chimp who went into space, Ham III (Andy Samberg). However, Ham is more experienced with the circus and has no interest in going into space, much to the annoyance of his other crewmates. Pretty soon afterward, Ham, Luna, and Titan are launched into space through the wormhole and land on the distant planet. Though Luna and Ham are put into danger when the ship and Titan are captured by Zartog and his minions. Having only twenty-four hours to get back before the ship takes off back to Earth, the two must find their ship and Titan.
I was shocked by how many talented people worked on this film. Some of the crew members who worked on this film included "Men In Black" director Barry Sonnenfeld producing the film, Oscar-nominated production designer Bo Welch designing the look, and even Oscar-nominated director Kirk DeMicco being in the director's chair. All three of them have done excellent work before and after the film. DeMicco went on to DreamWorks to direct a film I did like, "The Croods" with Chris Sanders, and is currently working on the Lin Manuel-Miranda musical, "Vivo" at Sony Pictures Animation which I'm eagerly anticipating. So what in the world happened with this film? While I put most of the blame on producer John H. Williams, I do feel that the Writers Guild Strike might have also played a hindrance to this film. The film was produced at the time the strike had happened and maybe changes were made to the script without DeMicco's input. It's very likely possible because the story of this film is really bad. One thing I don't understand about this story is why they needed Ham in the first place. The supervisor states it's for media attention, but I think the idea of sending a space probe into a wormhole would interest the media enough. It really makes no sense. Not only that, but the way the screenplay is constructed is really bad. We don't get a lot of time seeing Ham get into this situation because, after only a five-minute training scene, he and the other chimps are quickly thrust into space. It's so rushed. Not only that, the villain of this film is defeated not at the climax, but in the middle of the second act. It kills the tension and suspense of the film and really comes off as forced and lazy. Not to mention, the puns. There were so many bad monkey and space puns in this film that it just made me groan. They had a character in the film named Houston simply to quote the famous line from "Apollo 13". It just made me roll my eyes. As for the animation, it's extremely unimpressive. This film came out the same year as "Wall-E" and I'm extremely unimpressed with how boring outer space looks in this film. It just looks bland and unimpressive. Also, the camera movements often feel jerky and clunky and make the film feel very unstable. In fact, this whole movie feels more like an animated film made for DVD than it does theaters. It makes me wonder why they didn't put in on there instead. As for the characters, they're all awful. Every single one. Ham is an annoying protagonist who is very unlikable and mostly useless, Luna is a bland female character that is just there to be the love interest, and Titan is the stubborn leader who makes most of the bad puns. The human characters were also awful. The supervisor really is an idiot who wants to make stupid decisions just to save money including shutting down NASA to make it a center to make ceramic plates. Yes, really. Also, the scientists in the film are some of the worst stereotypes I've ever seen. One of them is Indian and speaks in a stereotyped accent and they all care about their pocket protectors because of how nerdy they are. How funny. Though the worst one was Zartog. Calling him a villain would seem generous. He's more of a mere threat than an intimating one. It's just awful. The only good things I could take away from this film was the catchy soundtrack by Blue Man Group and the short length. Apart from that, there's not much else to like.
"Space Chimps" is just a stupid film featuring a badly written story, unimpressive animation, and awful characters. Not much else to say about this one except that it's bad. My recommendation is to watch "Wall-E" instead. It's still a fantastic film that really shows the beauty of space and even asks thought-provoking questions. This film though is simply a bad banana.