The biggest problem about Mighty Joe Young is that Mighty Joe might be too smart for his own good. And the movie definitely isn't. Plagued by trite lines and an even more overused plot, Mighty Joe Young only manages to boast about a fun little sequence in Los Angeles, and that is about it.
Mighty Joe Young is just eye candy, and it might not be sweet enough for children, the target audience. Perhaps if I were younger I'd be swayed by this film, but I'm not and I know that there is quality children programming that Mighty Joe Young does not fit into. Sure, Joe is a loveable "little" ape that loves to play hide-and-seek, but it takes more than just a heartwarming creature for kids to enjoy it. Like all ape movies, we are drawn into the world of poachers. That's all good to present a message but how many times have we seen this formula? How many times are we going to put up with it? Obviously more since people let this slide.
But here's how stupid the movie is: Jill (Charlize Theron) finally realizes her ignorance towards poachers and agrees to "save" Joe by taking him to Los Angeles with a guy named Gregg (Bill Paxton). Of course, the habit is too small. At the same time, the poacher who killed both Joe and Jill's mothers, and who got his finger bitten off by little baby Joe, wants to seek revenge and make a lot of money, so he actually comes to Los Angeles, makes Joe all angry, and then tricks Jill into letting him "have" Joe. Just because she's blonde doesn't make her stupid, yet that is obviously what the writers are intending. Of course, once Joe escapes and "rampages" through the city, he heads towards a spotlight which he simply relates as Jill's flashlight. He then sees a kid stuck in a burning Ferris wheel and climbs up to save him, even though there is no way that the wheel could support his weight.
The acting is decent for this kind of movie, but is still plagued by the same character issues that is in every single, stupid kid's movie. Bill Paxton, promoting a bad hairstyle, goes to Africa and gets Charlize Theron to come back with him. Of course, a relationship is forming, and Mighty Joe Youngs takes a few scenes to watch them kiss or almost kiss. This is a kid's movie! Then, there's this stereotype badguy who has lost a body part and wants revenge, and, of course, almost gets his way. And the worst part about it, Joe actually kills him off, and pretty gruesomely. Again, this is a kid's movie!
Mighty Joe Young does have some good action scenes, but I won't say they are suspenseful. By the end, you will feel for this loveable, over-sized ape, but also, by the end, I'd much prefer to see an updated version of King Kong, and turn Kong into a nasty ape. Because it is much more fun to watch a mean critter wreck up a city than a loveable one. In short, you can fast forward to the five minute scene where Joe wreaks havoc in downtown LA, and you won't miss much.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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