We all like to think of ourselves as a pretty damned civilized
Homo sapiens. We eat with utensils, we rarely relieve
ourselves directly onto the pavement and, hey, we can make
a nice mocha grande with minimal effort. As a species, we
rock. But what would happen to us if, say, when we were infants
our parentsí SUV flipped off an embankment somewhere in the
wilds and we were snatched from the car and raised by animals?
Would we grow up with the instinctive knowledge that we must
cover our nether regions and always signal when making a turn?
Would we know, not in our minds but in our souls, that there
was a show called ďFriendsĒ and that we loved it unconditionally?
No, of course not. Weíd be swinging from vines, chasing down
animals for our grub and mating with anything that looked
hot in full body fur. Itís human nature to be the free, wild
thing we wish we could be and that brings us conveniently
to our aptly titled movie.
A young man is found in the woods, having been raised as
a gorilla by his father, who was insane. He is taken to a
lab and studied by a scientist, who is the most nerve-crackingly
civilized person to ever leaf though an Emily Post Guide
to Etiquette.The scientistís wife is a former forest-dweller
herself. Sheís been living in self-imposed isolation due to
her aesthetic problem of having hair all over her body. The
three are all brought together in a charmingly amusing way
and a sort of awkward love triangle begins as they all begin
to regress or ascend, depending on the person or the point
in the film.
Human Nature is a nice film, sort of the independent-minded
version of a Hollywood popcorn movie. Sure, it has some intelligent
things to say about the very nature of our humanity, not to
mention love and sex. And sure, itís certainly better written
than, say, The Wedding Planner. But at the end of the
day, itís about as weighty as a box of fluff, which isnít
a bad thing. I was taken aback by the light-heartedness of
it all because the film is written by none other than Charlie
Kaufman, the madman behind the already classic Being
John Malkovich. Malkovich was one weighty piece of work,
causing everyone who saw it to do some serious thinking out
in the lobby. And while itís still a good film in its own
right, Human Nature just doesnít have the emotional
gravitas that it needs to make it the true classic it desperately
wants to be.
That said, thereís quite a bit to like about the film. Besides
being pretty amusing, it has a nice flow to it, save for a
few draggy spots toward the end. And the performances are
all fun, with Rhys Ifans really standing out as the
wildman. His take on the role is quite original and could
have been a real contender come awards time had he been given
just a little more to work with. Tim Robbins and Patricia
Arquette are good too as the doctor and hairy wife, respectively,
though Robbins seems to be downplaying his character almost
to a fault. At any rate, they all gel together as an ensemble
and it works in the end.
Is this a must see? Well, probably not. You could go on living
having never seen Human Nature and you would end up
pretty much the same. Is it worth seeing? Yeah, sure. Itís
a good time in the theater and it has some nice things to
say about a few interesting topics. If for nothing else, you
should see it for the primal nod to our true selves; the wild
men and women who lurk just below our collective surface.
Weíre all apes after all, and the ape in us deserves its own
ó Clinton Davis