Human Nature Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 3, 2007
Shocking a load of crap this movie is, considering the amount of talent involved in it. Especially the director's and writers track record has been great, which makes you wonder what everyone was smoking doing this. They should most certainly be ashamed of themselves. Avoid at all costs, even if you like the Björk videos it mimics.
Super Reviewer
½ December 3, 2012
This movie's amateurish directing (Michel Gondry has done much, much better) and strangely stilted acting (despite some significant talent) detracts greatly from Charlie Kaufman's great, thought-provoking, deadpan script.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
½ December 27, 2011
Its really something different. Kaufman is a genius but this direction he made for Human Nature asks a question but never fully answers it. It picks on human sexuality but never truly explores it. Its kind of an open ended question of a film.
Super Reviewer
½ October 14, 2010
A Kaufman film unlike his usual repertoire, the first pairing between himself and director Michael Gondry was a premature effort. The subtle humor was there, and the story was obviously solid, but the vibe of anachronisms that were flouted made for a less than interesting movie watching experience. Still, the performances by the main players were exceptional, especially the emotionally driven Rhys Ifans.
Super Reviewer
January 25, 2007
Pretty good film, another Kaufman reflection of the loss of innocence, and very funny.
Super Reviewer
½ August 19, 2007
Quirky movie that investigates human nature through a tale of three characters whose lives are connected through an "ape" theme: a man raised an ape, an ape-women, and an ape behavioural scientist.
Super Reviewer
June 17, 2007
Better than the critics say - interesting ideas but does lose its way towards the end
Super Reviewer
December 26, 2006
Kind of a let-down after Being John Malkovich, but Kaufman and Gondry found their stride together with Eternal Sunshine. I count this as a trial run.
Super Reviewer
November 7, 2006
Charlie Kaufmann wrote it so that should say it all. Amazing and hilarious.
Super Reviewer
November 7, 2006
Kinda lame...
Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
February 24, 2006
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman jumped on to Hollywood?s A-list when his feature debut ?Being John Malkovich? was unleashed in 1999. ?Malkovich? was a brilliant original satire on identity, be it celebrity or sexual, and was filled with riotous humor but also blended beautifully with a rich story that bordered on genius that longer it went. Now Kaufman tries his hand expounding at the meaning of civilization versus animal instinct in ?Human Nature?. As one character tells another, ?Just remember, don?t do whatever your body is telling you to do and you?ll be fine.?[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]Lila (Patricia Arquette) is a woman burdened with excessive body hair ever since she was old enough for a training bra (with the younger version played by Disney?s Lizzie McGuire). Lila feels ashamed by her body and morbidly humiliated. She runs away to the forest to enjoy a life free from the critical eyes of other men. Here she can commune with nature and feel that she belongs.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]Nathan (Tim Robbins) is an anal retentive scientist obsessed with etiquette. As a young boy Nathan was sent to his room for picking the wrong fork to eat his meal with. He is now trying his best to teach mice table manners so he can prove that if etiquette can be taught to animals it can be ingrained toward humanity.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]Lila and Nathan become lovers when she ventures back into the city, eliminating her body hair for now, because of something infinitely in human nature ? hormones. The two of them find a form of content, as neither had known the intimate touch of another human being.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]?Puff? (Rhys Ifans) is a grown man living his life in the woods convinced by his father that he is an ape. One day while walking through the woods Nathan and Lila discover the ape-man and have differing opinions on what should be done with him. Nathan is convinced that he should be brought into civilization and be taught the rules, etiquette and things that make us ?human.? It would also be his greatest experiment. Lila feels that he should maintain his freedom and live as he does in nature, how he feels he should.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]What follows is a bizarre love triangle over the reeducation of ?Puff,? as Nathan?s slinky French assistant Gabrielle (Miranda Otto) names him. Lila is torn over the treatment of Puff and also her own society induced shame of her abundant amount of body hair. Nathan feels like he is saving Puff from his wayward primal urges, as he himself becomes a victim of them when he starts having an affair with Gabrielle. Puff, as he tells a congressional committee, was playing their game so he could find some action and ?get a piece of that.?[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]Kaufman has written a movie in the same vein as ?Being John Malkovich? but missing the pathos and sadly, the humor. ?Human Nature? tries too hard to be funny and isn?t nearly as funny as it thinks it is. Many quirky elements are thrown out but don?t have the same sticking power as Kaufman?s previous film. It?s a fine line between being quirky just for quirky?s sake (like the atrocious ?Gummo?) and turning quirky into something fantastic (like ?Rushmore? or ?Raising Arizona?). ?Human Nature? is too quirky for its own good without having the balance of substance to enhance the weirdness further. There are many interesting parts to this story but as a whole they don?t ever seriously gel.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]Debut director Michel Gondry cut his teeth in the realm of MTV making surreal videos for Bjork and others (including the new Lego animated one for The White Stripes). He also has done numerous commercials, most infamously the creepy-as-all-hell singing navels Levi ad. Gondry does have a vision, and that vision is ?Copy What Spike Jonze Did As Best As Possible.? Gondry?s direction never really registers, except for some attractive time shifts, but feels more like a rehash of Jonze?s work on, yep you guessed it, ?Being John Malkovich?. Jonze got an Oscar nomination for his film debut; the best thing Gondry could expect to receive is a little more personal style.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]Arquette and Robbins do fine jobs in their roles with Arquette given a bit more, dare I say it more, humanity. Her Lila is trapped between knowing what is true to herself and fitting in to a society that tells her that it?s unhealthy and wrong. Ifans has fun with his character and lets it show. The acting in ?Human Nature? is never really the problem.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]While ?Human Nature? is certainly an interesting film (hey it has Arquette singing a song in the buff and Rosie Perez as an electrologist) but the sum of its whole is lacking. It?s unfair to keep comparing it to the earlier ?Malkovich? but the film is trying too hard to emulate what made that movie so successful. ?Human Nature? just doesn?t have the gravity that could turn a quirky film into a brilliant one.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: C+ [/color][/font]
Super Reviewer
½ June 22, 2005
[font=Century Gothic]"Human Nature" starts out with Lila(Patricia Arquette) growing up with intense body hair issues. Afraid of disdain from her fellow humans, she goes to live a solitary life in nature and becomes a successful nature writer. While still enjoying being on her own, she was beginning to realize certain sexual urges and decides to make herself presentable for the opposite sex and rejoin the human race.(Masturbation isn't an option?) All of which brings her into contact with an expert in electrolysis(a sadly wasted Rosie Perez) which brings her into contact with virginal scientist, Dr. Bronfman(Tim Robbins, channeling Albert Brooks) which brings her into contact with a man living in the wild(who else but Rhys Ifans?).[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Human Nature" is a disappointing off-kilter farce from the same writer(Charlie Kaufman) and the same director(Michel Gondry) who would make the wonderful "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" two years later. "Human Nature" wants to make the point about their being little difference between humans and animals when it comes to sexual conduct but humans have at least mastered birth control. And it does miss the opportunity to comment on animal experimentation. Robert Forster is the best thing about this movie. But what is up with Miranda Otto playing a French scientific assistant named Gabrielle?[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Notes:[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Patricia Arquette and Miguel Sandoval also star in the TV series "Medium."[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Miranda Otto and Tim Robbins reunite for the "War of the Worlds" remake coming out next week.[/font]
Ryan M
Super Reviewer
September 16, 2011

"Human Nature" almost works. It's ambitious and intriguing, but its one fatal flaw is that its reach seems to exceed its grasp; if only in small moments. There are times in the film where I felt content with the final product, but I always had the sense that it was imperfect. It's well-made and competently written by the masterful, observant, legendary Charlie Kaufman; and directed by Michel Gondry, who made his debut feature with this film. It's not the best way to come into the cinematic world, but I've seen so much worse.

Gondry is able to exercise his unique visual craft in the movie, which is always nice. He is one of the most gifted, living cinematic magicians working in the business today, and to restrain him would also be to ruin him. He doesn't go all the way, but he goes somewhere nonetheless, and therefore I can almost say I was satisfied. But the more I thought, the less I liked "Human Nature". I continued to admire it and enjoy myself throughout; this is solid entertainment. But it also tries to be something more; something, perhaps, a little more thoughtful than most of its kind. It could be labeled as a comedy, and at that, it's better than most. It's often quite funny, and always amusing, but too often does it seem to confuse pleasure with depth and skillful writing. This is where it begins to trip, eventually falling to the ground. Yet, I still feel it's able to get back up again.

A naturalist (Patricia Arquette) who has been plagued with a particularly hairy body her entire life, a passionate scientist (Tim Robbins), and a genuine man-ape (Rhys Ifans) all come together to form the story, and give it characters. The naturalist, named Lila, befriends scientist Nathan, and the two begin a romantic partnership. One day, they take a walk in the woods, and discover the mysterious man-ape, whom they call Puff. They take him back to the lab which Nathan runs, and proceed to study him for many days, many nights, and many months. Nathan is obsessive when it comes to his work with the peculiar man, and the tension only gets, well, tenser, when his sexy secretary comes into his life and starts up an unlikely love triangle that just keeps getting more complicated as the movie goes on.

That's pretty much your story right there, or at least, it's all that I feel you need to know in order for you to make the ultimate decision: is it worth seeing? If you are intrigued by the basic idea behind the film, then I would strongly advise you to give it a shot. I quite enjoyed most of what it had to offer, the filmmaking talents behind it tried their hardest to make it work (and just barely failed to do so, in my opinion), and there's a certain whimsy to the film that cannot be put down or denied. It's not for everyone, and the slapstick tone certainly didn't agree with me for any more than half of the time, but when it's funny; it's actually pretty clever.

It's a nice movie, because it gives us room to admire the film. I enjoyed the scenes of experimentation with mice, love-making in the wilderness (complete with surreal and pretty color schemes), and of course, any sequence involving Puff's growth from ape to "real" man. There are some good gags involving Nathan's strict, somewhat unsupportive parents, as well as many jokes pertaining to apes and how inappropriate life would be if we were still as primitive as they still are, but there's also plenty of repetition; and we've yet again come to another point of criticism surrounding the film.

It's not bad, it's pretty well-acted, and there are some scenes that really stand out. Let's just say that if you like Michel Gondry, then it's worth seeing. This isn't Charlie Kaufman's best screenplay, nor is it anywhere near the quality of his later works, but I can appreciate "Human Nature" for what it is; all it takes is a nice step back. I can't say I recommend it, but by no means am I giving you a red flag NOT to see it. Tread these waters at your own risk, but just remember; even a mildly pretentious, ambitious, comedic mess can be somewhat beautiful, but still...not quite what you might expect from it.
Super Reviewer
April 3, 2009
Considering this is from Kaufman, Gondry and Jonze, it's actually far more pedestrian than you'd expect. The title sums up the film nicely and it has some moments, but whether it was budget constraints or a lack of confidence, it really feels held back, and relies on slapstick humour rather than letting the humour come naturally from the scenario. It's worth a watch, but don't be expecting anything close to Eternal Sunshine or Being John Malkovich.
Super Reviewer
November 2, 2009
Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry equals perfection.
Super Reviewer
½ March 1, 2007
"You fuck the mind, Lila, you fuck the mind."
Super Reviewer
March 7, 2008
There are enough good ideas here to make a really strong twenty minute short, as a feature film it gets old fast. This is a film that uses satire as a blunt instrument; it makes its point really clear and then jives on it for an hour and a half. The characters are not easy to relate to at all, but most importantly the film just isn?t very funny. It?s nice to watch if only to see the evolution of Michel Gondry?s style, but as a whole the movie just doesn?t work.
Super Reviewer
½ August 13, 2007
A little quirky, but this movie was written by the incomparable Charlie Kaufman, and that means it's great.
Super Reviewer
March 1, 2006
Weakest Kaufman film I have seen so far, but his films always make for good fun at the least. Just a tad too corny and certainly lacks timing in a few places. But the humour is in true Kaufman-style and makes for some hilariously funny and weird scenes. The cast is also great, especially Rhys Ifans, who seems to REALLY enjoy getting naked in his films... ;-)
½ December 8, 2010
An extended joke that rarely makes one laugh. Still, Rhys Ifans is excellent in it. There's also some weird subplots that don't go anywhere and only appear in one scene to make you go "huh?"
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