Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Monkey Butler!

There are two ways to instantly convince me to bump any movie up my Netflix queue: remind me that it costars Terence Stamp or that its titular character is an orangutang butler. The two are equally appealing in my eyes. Toss in the fact that an orangutang butler qualifies for The Shortening and why WOULDN'T I be watching 1986's Link?

Quick Plot: A plucky zoology major named Jane talks her way into being the assistant for a leading animal researcher Dr. Philip, offering to clean his gorgeously secluded country manor while he studies a trio of chimpanzees. Or orangutangs. Or orangutangs dyed to look like chimpanzees. 

It's all very confusing, in much the same way that Rob Marshall cast Chinese actresses to play Japanese women speaking broken English in Memoirs of a Geisha.

Back to the orangutang butler--

Wait, I didn't even TELL you about the orangutang butler? Where are my manners! Remind me to hire a butler that can school me on such things.

At Dr. Philip's castle, Jane grows close to the simian charges, particularly the titular 45-year-old Link, probably because even It Girls of the '80s couldn't resist a monkey in a tuxedo. It's a timeless look on any species.

Dr. Philip, on the other hand, CAN resist a monkey in a tuxedo and plans on unloading Link, dead or alive, to the most convenient bidder. Before he has a chance to get an estimate, his caged charges ominously surround him as the film cuts away, leaving Jane wondering where her boss went. The rest of the film is essentially a cat and mouse game as Jane discovers the lovable house servant might have crossed over into eviiiiiiiiiil territory. She's helped out in this endeavor by a more lovable oranutanzee named Imp and an intensely electric late '80s era musical score by Jerry Goldsmith.

Link is one of those titles that randomly pops up on cult movie lists, and while it's ultimately somewhat dull, I can also see why film fans would want to talk about it. Shue was in her post-Karate Kid glory and just one year away from landing some extraordinary Adventures In Babysitting, while intelligent monkeys were charming human society by talking to kittens. Add in the almost Labyrinth-ian music and you have the kind of film with its date all but watermarked under every reel.

As an artifact of a certain time, Link is certainly unique. Directed by Patrick's Richard Franklin, the film overcomes the seemingly impossible task of making trapped in a beautiful countryside manor with a tuxedo-wearing monkey a frightening affair. Unfortunately, it's also rather boring. Shue makes a sympathetic stalkee, but 45 minutes of her eluding a silent chimpazangutang isn't the most compelling viewing. Yes, even with an awkward shower scene that has a presumably naked (but not for the audience, sorry boys) Shue staring into Link's expressively wandering eyes, Link is just kind of a snore.

But it goes without saying that it earns a million bonus points for heavily featuring a monkey in a tuxedo.

High Points
Did I mention that the monkey wears a tuxedo?

Low Points

Lessons Learned
Monkeys can’t smoke cigars!

Being female gives one a genetic aptitude towards cooking and cleaning

Don’t cook phones. Seriously, don't COOK PHONES

Stray Emily Fantasy Alert
I find Terence Stamp to be incredibly sexy. The same can be said for Michael Crazy Is As Crazy Does Shannon. Do I just have some weird fetish for men chosen to play General Zod, or is this a common female condition?

Link is a strange film, but it's also too slight to really be any good. After the initial thrill of watching a well-dressed orangutang carry Elizabeth Shue's luggage up to her room wears off, there's really not enough to keep you intrigued. Formal wear animal completists will want to take a peak, but the rest of you can probably get everything they need out of this image:


  1. Everyone thinks that Terence Stamp is sexy. I'm pretty sure it's one of Newton's Laws, but he withheld it because the 17th century was not ready for that kind of sexy.

  2. Now that you mentioned it, I do recall that footnote in my middle school science textbook. I didn't understand it at the time, but it's so clear now.