'Godzilla vs. Kong': An ode to a monkey and lizard screaming at each other
God help me, I love this movie where the big lizard and the big monkey punch each other silly.
Normally when I recommend something for We Love This So Much, it's because it's touched me on some profound level, and I wish to share that soul-warming art with you, the reader.
"Godzilla vs. Kong" is not profound. It is one of the stupidest things I have ever seen. Watching it made me feel like I was a toddler three fingers into a bottle of Bombay Sapphire. Inadequate retirement savings? A whole year without human touch? American cultural decay?
These worries were far from my world for 113 minutes. No thoughts. Mind clear. Just lizard and monkey.
In "Godzilla vs. Kong," the latest installment of Legendary Pictures' "MonsterVerse" franchise now in theaters and streaming on HBO Max, there allegedly is a script that contains a plot. Here is what I gleaned: Godzilla — large sassy dinosaur type whose dental plan is the Manhattan Project — is doing what he loves to do, which is wreck stuff owned by the shadowy corporation whose name is truly unimportant. (I also forget what it is.)
Kong — large angry monkey, but also kind of a sweetheart and maybe gives great hugs? — is on Skull Island under observation by science types. The main scientist is played by Rebecca Hall, giving the same energy I give to most Zoom meetings but hopefully being paid enough money to buy herself a nice catamaran.
There are other humans in this movie, which is a shame, because my antidepressants got a stress test every time they came on screen. But I suppose the world is not ready for a dialogue-free monster movie. (I mean ... I am.) Alexander Skarsgård is also a scientist, but he's haunted by loss and forced to deliver — with a face as straight as listening to Toby Keith at a gender reveal party — lines about the Hollow Earth realm from which the giant monkey and lizard hail. Brian Tyree Henry plays a podcasting conspiracy theorist looking to expose the shadowy corporate ... things happening. Millie Bobby Brown is also here because she is friends with the lizard and has a good agent.
There is a thrilling journey to Hollow Earth and lots of running through the steam and shadows of industrial corridors. All fine movie stuff, sure. I look forward to the Universal Studios ride.
(Some spoilers follow, but also, LOL.)
The reason we love "Godzilla vs. Kong" is not because anything passing for a character arc for these people. No, it's because the two magnificent beasts on the marquee are given all the room they need to tap dance on our gray matter. Director Adam Wingard serves up the CGI boxing match for which our pandemic-addled selves thirst. I don't want to pontificate about the cruelty of nature or the hazards of man tampering in God's domain.
I want to see the monkey and the lizard scream at each other like they're doing community theater production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" I want to see the monkey do sign language and then get into an underwater choreography battle with the lizard, like if Busby Berkeley directed Shark Week.
The lizard can swim, like, really well, by the way.
After the monkey and lizard fight under the briny depths, you might think to yourself, "Could there be some kind of sky action in my future?" Reader, there is! I kid you not, they put that big monkey in the air, where big monkeys belong.
I could not focus on that for too long, because pretty soon there was a robot lizard — yes, I know his name is Mechagodzilla, we are doing a bit. Then the monkey, the lizard and the lizard with the Intel processor were fighting, and before I knew it, the monkey was fixing his own dislocated shoulder by slamming it into a building.
If I have one criticism, though I suppose that ship has sailed (with a giant monkey chained onboard), it would be that Kong gets way more narrative sympathy than Godzilla. My cold-blooded bud honestly seems kind of rude and like he wouldn't wear a mask in public because he "doesn't have to." (My colleague Chloe Gonzales suggests that perhaps he had a traumatic egghood.)
But back to incredulously gushing over the multimillion-dollar lunacy that is "Godzilla vs. Kong." I will want to explore the existential questions of our impossible existence through cinema some other time. Right now, I want to eat cheese on my couch and watch a giant monkey and lizard make the world their WWE ring.
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We Love This So Much is Austin360 recurring series of pop culture recommendations.