Buddy

USA - 1997

Movie Review By Blue Velvet

A few decades before Jane Goodall and Diane Fosse, a wealthy socialite named Gertrude Lintz made international news when she successfully raised a gorilla from its infancy to its adulthood. At that time in the 1930's, no one not even scientists had undertaken the task with much success. What was her secret? "Buddy," the new film from Jim Henson Films scans the life and times of Gertrude Lintz's gorilla. Directed and written by Caroline Thompson, the writer of "Edward Scissorhands" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas, " "Buddy" is a fairy tale comedy fit for children.

Rene Russo stars as Mrs. Gertrude Lintz, the lady bountiful who keeps over ten species of animals on her palatial New York estate. Her husband, Doctor Lintz played by Robbie Coltrain never utters a mean word or lifts a brow at his lovely wife's obessession for animals. Ditto goes for the butler who holds a non-judgemental attitude toward Gertrude and it's only the maid who sometimes questions the Lintz's sanity.

Buddy makes his appearance when the Philadelphia Zoo calls Gertrude and begs for her advice on a sickly newborn gorilla. Gertrude rushes to the Zoo and arranges to bring the infant gorilla home. Naming the tiny gorilla, Buddy, Gertrude raises him as if he were her own child, dressing him up and teaching him manners. For laughs, the film relies on the looney anecdotes of Buddy's life with the wealthy Lintz's. Gertrude's unending love for Buddy is notorious but Thompson's script doesn't demostrate this very much. Instead unconventional love is more the focus and in one scene the rapport between Gertrude and Buddy is somewhat Freudian and curious.

Nevertheless, "Buddy" is squeaky clean and abounds with bouncy animals like a circus. "Buddy" is also the first picture released by Jim Henson Pictures and it's Jim Henson's Creature Shop who supplied the remote controlled baby gorilla robot and gorilla costumes. Although lacking the flair that made the Muppets famous even among adults, "Buddy" prevails as a light candy coated wonderment for children.

© 1997 Blue Velvet Air Date: 06/11/97



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