The Monkey’s Uncle (1965)

Article 3046 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-9-2009
Posting Date: 12-16-2009
Directed by Robert Stevenson
Featuring Tommy Kirk, Annette Funicello, Leon Ames
Country: USA
What it is: Shopping Cart Movie

Merlin Jones’s experiments with monkeys are used to save the football team at Midvale college. In the first half, he must find a way to help the football players pass their English exams or else face expulsion. In the second half, he must prove that men can fly under their own power in order for the college to net a ten million dollar contribution that will trump a smaller one which requires the removal of the football program.

Feeling as they do like TV episodes strung together, the Merlin Jones movies come across as the chintziest of the Disney shopping cart movies. But even the Disney at its chintziest has its surprises; for one thing, that’s no anonymous rock group backing up Annette Funicello in the opening song, but the Beach Boys themselves. I also noticed that even though the movie consists of two separate stories, they don’t feel quite as disjointed as they might have, because there are enough similar themes between the two halves (the sleep learning, the theme of saving the football team, the monkey subplot) to make the movie feel more like a single entity. Granted, it’s still one of the weaker of Disney’s efforts, and it really suffers by comparison to some of Disney’s other efforts of the era. All in all, it’s likable enough, but extremely minor.

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