Spanking the Monkey (1994) starring Jeremy Davies, Benjamin Hendrickson, Alberta Watson, Carla Gallo directed by David O. Russell Movie Review

Spanking the Monkey (1994)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Jeremy Davies in Spanking the Monkey (1994)

Ray's Oedipus Compex

After a good first year at MIT Ray Aibelli (Jeremy Davies) is heading home for just a couple of days before heading to Washington for an exclusive internship. But his plans are thrown in the air when his father says he has to go away for business and Ray will not only have to look after the dog and house but also his mother Susan (Alberta Watson) who not only is suffering from depression due to a body image crisis but also suffering from a complex fracture of the leg which he means he has to play nurse maid to her. But this forced closeness comes with some strange and unsettling problems especially when he meets Toni (Carla Galio) who he starts seeing.

The write up I read for "Spanking the Monkey" made it sound like a sex comedy and lets be honest with a title like that it would be easy to think how it could be. But whilst there is an element of teen sex comedy to this movie it is more of a dark comedy with observations on the relationship between mother and son. Now in a weird way that makes "Spanking the Monkey" an insightful teen comedy which has sex scenes but also depth.

Alberta Watson in Spanking the Monkey (1994)

Now to give you an idea of how "Spanking the Monkey" progresses we see how Ray feels very uncomfortable playing nurse maid to his mum, emptying bed pans, lifting her on to the toilet and helping her shower, which is understandable. But this then evolves as having to be this close and in the absence of his father leads to conflicted feelings especially as Ray has to do things such as massage his mother's legs. But this conflict goes further as this closeness then comes in to play when it comes to his relationship with Toni.

So as you can see there is some thought to all this as it examines the closeness between mother and son in the absence of a working father. But then through out this there are moments of sex comedy including Ray's continual efforts to get some alone time in the bathroom to masturbate only for the dog to keep scratching at the door.

What is impressive about all of this and credit for this goes to writer and director David O. Russell is that here is a movie which makes you laugh on a simple sex comedy level yet makes you think about the situation at the same time. But credit also goes to the cast with Jeremy Davies and Alberta Watson doing a brilliant job of making you laugh but also bringing out the depth in this uncomfortable situation.

What this all boils down to is that "Spanking the Monkey" is much more than it first looks and whilst it has plenty of sex comedy it also has a depth which is just as fascinating.