A-Bo is a humonkey who was found in a basket as a baby by a nun, who took him in. Years later, little A-Bo has grown up and is very popular and loved. But when one teacher wants him out of the school so that he will stop interrupting classes, another man is also interested in taking A-Bo in and give him everything he needs to be like a human, and share their rights.
A little while back I reviewed this sex comedy with a sweet center called "Sexually Frank", by Frankie Frain. I really enjoyed that movie and I've had some contact with Frankie since then, so I was finally given a link to watch his previous feature (second out of three) "A-Bo the Humonkey". I started watching it with no real intentions to review it, but I figured this would be as good of a movie to review as any, right? Going in a similar style as "Sexually Frank" as far as the heart and soul goes, this is a much more goofy and definitely less sex oriented comedy. No doubt a movie made by fans of Troma, except with no intentions of actually making a Troma movie. I don't know whether or not it was intentional to make this humonkey share some facial characteristics with Toxie from "The Toxic Avenger", but certainly that's the first thing I could think of. And in a similar Troma way, it doesn't fucking matter that the mask doesn't convince you. But more on that later.
This story is set in the small town of Mossyrock, where several years ago a nun found a basket outside of church. The basket contained a baby. But certainly not just any random baby - no way. This was a humonkey! And A-Bo became his name-o. Slightly older, he walks around the halls of a local school, helping wherever he can. But one teacher is really sick of A-Bo constantly disturbing his classes, distracting students and probably a little sick of his feces throwing as well. He wants him out of the school. He actually succeeds, in that a college student from Boston wants to take him in and help him through life - get him certain rights that he believes he should have. Being half man and all. But he also plans to, for the first time in A-Bo's life, reveal him to the media. A-Bo's home town are concerned about this decision.
You can certainly tell that it's made by the "Sexually Frank" Frankie, but probably not through the story. It's the atmosphere, the characters and the light-hearted experience overall that I recognize. It's good for a relatively new director to already have a certain style. Most iconic directors, especially in comedy, have their own little touches and Frankie Frain has his. While "Sexually Frank" is a superior movie in most aspects, as it should be, you can find much of the similar vibes here and that's one of the best things about "A-Bo the Humonkey".
The comedy isn't strictly about A-Bo being a humonkey, but as much from simple comments and randomness through-out. One of my favorite moments is when Frankie Frain's character Topher (Frankie also plays A-Bo, actually) is being interviewed about the events surrounding A-Bo, and it's just a classic dialog driven deadpan moment. Subtle stuff like this can often bring the biggest laughs out of me, and for this movie that managed to do just that. I can't say that "A-Bo the Humonkey" is a fantastic comedy, as it probably just generated a handful of laughs out of me, but I think it's solid as a light indie comedy. It's pretty well-produced so the issues are mostly towards the money not being funny enough at times. There are certain moments in the movie that felt a bit overdrawn and I can't deny feeling it was overall a bit tedious to watch. However, there is much to like about the movie, and it is most definitely above average for an independent comedy. It's part of a learning curve for Frankie Frain and you could tell even in "Sexually Frank" that he fine-tuned his comedy and style. If Frankie continues in the comedy direction he his heading, we will soon be seeing him pop up everywhere. Unless you're already seeing his face everywhere.
"A-Bo the Humonkey" works with a pretty familiar theme (maybe we're not used to humonkeys, but certainly the alienated character), certainly it has been done before with some adjustments, and perhaps it's not the most sharp-witted and hilarious of indie comedies. But the overall production is solid, helping us to accept every flaw that can be found on the technical side of things. There was not a moment where I felt I was watching a cheap, cheesy movie (except for whenever Lloyd Kaufman was on screen) and that's a great achievement when you lead character is a fat, weird, humonkey with a Toxie-esque mask. Far from as good of a movie as their next feature "Sexually Frank", I can still appreciate what I see in this one and I can't deny that this is a talent in progress.