A 1994 effort that opened to mixed reception at the box office and middling grosses, "Monkey Trouble" turns out to be better than the trailers and notice would suggest. Written/directed by Franco Amurri and exec produced by none other than director Ridley Scott, "Trouble" stars Thora Birch as Eva, a rebellious young girl whos gotten little attention from her parents. She lives with her mother (Mimi Rogers) and stepfather (Christopher McDonald), but is irritated by the presence of a new baby brother that's getting more attention than her, as well the fact that she can't get a dog.
As the film opens, we're introduced to Azro (Harvey Keitel), a street entertainer who works with a monkey that happens to be particularly good at lifting jewelery, watches and other valuables from an unsuspecting crowd. Azro's made a deal with a couple of stock villian-types, who want to use the monkey in a big heist. After the little creature shows what he can do, he manages to escape from his nasty owner, running straight into Eva.
The girl adopts the pet and names it Dodger, but the little monkey's been trained too well and when the valuables of other folks in the neighborhood start showing up, Eva faces the blame. At the same time, Azro needs the monkey to complete the heist and starts off to track down his old pet.
The film's performances liven the material quite nicely, as the story remains fairly low-key and predictable. Birch is one of the most natural and charming actresses of her generation and manages to shine even in an early effort here. Keitel is occasionally funny, too, although McDonald and Rodgers have little to do as the parents. However, the real star of the show is the monkey, which is a surprisingly intelligent little creature capable of a pretty impressive and amusing performance.
The film is an obviously low-budget effort, with basic sets and minimal production design or other elements, but it's still a rather charming effort that's carried along by its cast.
VIDEO: "Monkey Trouble" is presented by New Line Home Entertainment in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full-frame. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is a very enjoyable effort, providing picture quality that, while not impressive, presents the visually basic movie about as crisply and clearly as possible. Sharpness and detail are solid, as the film remained nicely defined throughout, if a little flat in appearance.
Some problems were scattered throughout the presentation; not enough to really take away from the viewing enjoyment, but enough small flaws to notice. Some tiny instances of edge enhancement were briefly spotted, while some traces of pixelation were also apparent. The print seemed in fine condition, aside from a little bit of grain and a few minor specks. The film's basic color palette was acceptably presented, looking bright and not showing any signs of smearing or other faults.
SOUND: "Monkey Trouble" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, but this soundtrack seemed to essentially be mono, with the exception of a few sequences that opened out to the front speakers slightly for score or minor ambience. Audio quality was fine, as dialogue and what little else the audio provided sounded crisp and clear.
MENUS: Cute animated main menu, which puts clips from the movie to use as backgrounds.
EXTRAS: The film's theatrical trailer and an interactive game where viewers try to guess what movie an image is from.
Final Thoughts: While nothing far above average, "Monkey Trouble" is a cute adventure/comedy that I found mostly quite entertaining. New Line's DVD edition doesn't provide much in the way of supplements, but the presentation and price are nice. Recommended.