The Ape

Crimes:

• Ruining a perfectly ridiculous James Franco-bonds-with-wisecracking-talking-ape premise by loading down the titular simian with metaphorical baggage

• Making Franco's office nemesis a shrill, ugly caricature of a Jewish American Princess

• Simultaneously ripping off Office Space, Being John Malkovich, and Fight Club

Defenders: Star, co-writer, and director James Franco; co-star Brian Lally; producer-actor Vince Jolivette

Tone of commentary: Hushed, quiet, and surprisingly dour for a movie about a hard-partying talking ape. Franco, using his whispery indoor voice throughout, essentially asks to be graded on a curve, admonishing viewers to consider his low budget, crude subject matter, short shooting schedule, and filmmaking inexperience when judging The Ape. He spends a lot of time discussing the challenges of adapting a play for the big screen, when he isn't prodding his co-commentators to kick in useful information.

What went wrong: Considering Franco's low budget, crude subject matter, short shooting schedule, and filmmaking inexperience, the commentators seem to think the film turned out pretty well.

Comments on the cast: Immediately following a scene in which a Hawaiian-shirt-clad ape (played by Lally) subjects Franco to an endless stream of homophobic insults, Jolivette unironically praises The Ape for containing some of the best work Franco or Lally has ever done.

Inevitable dash of pretension: "I was trying to find the isolation," Lally loftily comments, when discussing his role as an ape that only Franco can see. Later, a Franco anecdote begins with "I was talking to Willem Dafoe the other day…" Also, Franco cites Edward Albee and Eugene O'Neill as major influences on his film about a poo-throwing, wisecracking simian.

Commentary in a nutshell: In his opening comments, Franco misidentifies his Ape character, Harry Walker, as "Harry Osborn." No, James, that's the character you play in the Spider-Man series, which features movies people actually saw and liked.

Filed Under: DVD

More Commentary Tracks Of The Damned