RVOD136 Monkey See, Monkey Do: Verbs

(1971, Educational/Short/Children, color)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Stop saying it like that, you warpo.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:

Monkeys and aimless folk guitar, with just a tiny bit of grammar.


The Howler Monkey saw the best minds of his generation destroyed by... Well, you know the rest.Look at the monkeys. What are the monkeys DOING? Isn’t it amazing what all those monkeys can DO? Let’s watch them SWIM, SIT, SCRATCH and BITE. Now let’s sit in silence through similar footage while you (presumably the kids in class) think of words for what the monkeys are DOING yourself. Now let’s repeat the first section, this time as a rambling, pointless folk song.


Yeah, it’s dumb, meandering, mostly pointless and vaguely obscene (DOING!), but I’ll be danged if the monkeys aren’t cute, and at least it gets across what a verb is. That last point alone puts it head and shoulders above most of the other grammar shorts I’ve seen via Rifftrax.

The material isn’t coherent enough to inspire much beyond your garden variety “monkeys throw poop” jokes, so the riffers frequently have to strike out on their own. Mike works in a Road House reference. Bill works in a Star Wars Holiday Special reference. Kevin works in an Alan Ginsberg reference. Kevin sums the whole thing up with my favorite comment near the short’s end, “I’m starting to think this movie was based on a drunken bet.” It captures the essence of what this short is—a more-or-less random set of images, words and music, aimed at children, likely by someone with an altered consciousness. The end result isn’t entirely hilarious, but somehow the riffers make it work.