"Spanking the Monkey" with this Disturbing Comedy!

Spanking the Monkey
4/30/2010

With a title like “Spanking the Monkey” it’s bound to induce some odd looks. What lies within is a brilliantly twisted film that is made to make you squirm and feel uneasy. This film deals with the incestuous relationship between a dude and his mother. When you think of other famous mother and son combos, Hitchcock’s Psycho and the original Friday the 13th come to mind, but they were horror films. “Monkey” is quite funny at times but also bizarre at others. This was the first film by Director David O. Russell, who is most known for the Persian Gulf movie “Three Kings.”

Med student Ray Aibelli (played by Jeremy Davies, the island physicist from “Lost”) arrives home for summer vacation set on taking a prestigious internship only to have to take care of his injured mother instead. She has a broken leg and would rate pretty high on the MILF scale if you ask me. Ray’s father is an uptight traveling salesman who is always on the road, and screwing other women. If you have ever been in a situation when a parent is completely dependant on you, you will get an even more bizarre joy out of this movie. We watch as Ray carries his mom back and forth to the bathroom, then has to hold her hand as she showers. Davies plays these scenes perfectly with equal parts awkwardness and a sort of voyeurism.

Ray’s mother keeps a tight leash on Ray weather she needs him or not. If she has to suffer, Ray should too. As the saying goes misery loves company. He is kept as a virtual prisoner in the same house he grew up in. The urge to free yourself from your parents starts at an early age for many and when freedom is finally achieved, returning for any extended period of time can be a huge psychological blow. Ray is even pestered on numerous occasions by the dog when trying to get some bathroom privacy (think of the title.)

When Ray is able go out he starts up a relationship with a neighborhood high school girl named Toni. Just what he needs more awkward relationships and complications. He also hangs around a bunch of guys who aren’t really friends, but its the only other option. When you have a few months to kill, and limited options how do you pass the time? Ray is a regular, nice guy and director Russell make you feel every cringe worthy moment.

Although funny at times, this really is a dark and disturbing movie and is not for everyone. Made on a budget of about $200,000 in the summer of 1993, it was also shown at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival were it won the Audience Award. If you like your movies on the edge give this one a look.