Marshall's Monkey Business
Whilst his stories had been made in to movies before Michael Crichton became hot property thanks to Spielberg who brought his story to life in "Jurassic Park". But in doing such a good job of making "Jurassic Park" then every Crichton based movie had something to live up too and so few did, not so much because of his writing but for other reasons. That brings me to "Congo" which was directed by Frank Marshall and ends up a curious mismatch of ideas which never come together in a satisfying manner but remain strangely entertaining in almost a cutesy homage to b-movies sort of way.
When an expedition to retrieve rare diamonds in the Congo goes missing, former CIA agent Dr. Karen Ross (Laura Linney - Dave) is ordered by her boss R.B. Travis (Joe Don Baker) to get in to the jungle and find the expedition and the diamonds. To do so she manages to hitch a ride with scientist Dr. Peter Elliot (Dylan Walsh - Secretariat) who is heading to the Congo with his talking gorilla Amy on an expedition funded by Herkermer Homolka (Tim Curry - The Three Musketeers). But whilst Peter thinks he is being funded to try and use Amy to communicate with the native gorillas Herkermer wants Amy to lead them to a hidden city where legend has it vast diamond mines lay untouched. But their journey is not a smooth one from being shot at in the sky to run ins with locals none of which can prepare them for what they find at the end of the trail.
So here is the thing "Congo" tries to bring various storyline ideas together to give us an eclectic group of people trekking through the jungle. As such we have Karen who being ex CIA has lots of gadgets and a bit of an action chick, Herkermer who is a bit nefarious in his ulterior motive to find a lost city and then there is Peter with Amy the talking gorilla. Plus just to try and bring it all together we have Captain Munro Kelly who is their guide through the jungles. Each of these individual stories are entertaining but they just don't work together making it a bit of a hotch potch of a movie.
"Congo" is also a strange movie in tone as for the most it has a family feel to it, with plenty of humour and cuteness especially when we have Amy's digitized voice. But then at the same time there is a horror side, what they find at the end of their journey and whilst not extremely terrifying it doesn't fit with all the cuteness which went on prior. It is a strange blend which says it doesn't know who its target audience is.
As for the acting well whilst Dylan Walsh constantly reminded me of Steve Guttenberg and Laura Linney ends up with surprisingly little to do it is Ernie Hudson as Munro who ends up delivering the most entertaining character. But that doesn't say much because Munro is not a special character just one who has a few of the funnier lines which Hudson hits perfectly. There is of course the fact that we have actors in gorilla suits which after the CGI of "Jurassic Park" looks cheesy yet the actor who plays Amy and who ever does the voice do a good job of making her cute as intended.
What this all boils down to is that "Congo" is a movie which isn't terrible but doesn't work because the various parts fail to gel together. Yet it is still strangely entertaining in a cute way which may have been the intention.