MXP: Most Xtreme Primate (January 22/04)
As far as movies about snowboarding chimps go, MXP: Most Xtreme Primate isn't half bad. There's no denying that the film is geared towards small children - the two over-the-top villains are proof positive of that - but there's a few things worth recommending about the movie, primarily the whole concept of a chimp that knows how to snowboard. Even the most incompetent filmmaker would be hard-pressed to muck up such a bizarre premise.
The film opens with Jack the chimp, the hero of MVP: Most Valuable Primate and MVP2: Most Vertical Primate, depressed over the fact that he can no longer play professional hockey. His owner decides to cheer him up by taking him on a trip to Mexico, but after a wacky mix-up at the airport, Jack winds up in Colorado instead. There, he meets an equally depressed young boy named Pete (Devin Douglas Drewitz) who's despondent over a recent move away from his friends. When Pete notices Jack hanging around by himself, he decides to take the chimp in - and eventually learns about Jack's impressive snowboarding skills.
The majority of MXP: Most Xtreme Primate's running time is devoted to Jack's hijinks - both on the slopes and off - with plot intrusions and character development kept to a minimum. But despite the almost juvenile manner in which the film's story unfolds, the movie remains oddly entertaining. There's just something about a chimp that behaves like a human - Jack sighs when he's sad and wears running shoes when he leaves the house - that's compelling in an inexplicable way.
The human characters aren't even close to as engaging as Jack, though Drewitz does a nice job of playing a mopey pre-teen (cutesy this kid is not). Former matinee idol Robby Benson pops up as Pete's father, and though he's given one good scene in which he reacts to the presence of a chimp in his bed with absolute horror, this is essentially a thankless throwaway role. There's even an appearance by an actual snowboarding star, someone named Bjorn Leines, that will probably impress any fans of his.
MXP: Most Xtreme Primate delivers exactly what it promises: a chimp that becomes a snowboarding champion. And on that level, it works.