[MOVIE REVIEW]An annoying taming of the two

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[MOVIE REVIEW]An annoying taming of the two

Looking at the credits of "Human Nature," which stars Tim Robbins and was written by Charlie Kaufman of the critically acclaimed 1999 comedy "Being John Malkovich," one senses that the film should be a perfect combination to delve into the truths of human nature. Well, it's not.

Kaufman's storytelling is still gripping, but this time it's overshadowed by a tired tale about taming a wild man and overly crude scenes showing unrefined human instinct.

Robbins plays Nathan Bronfman, a scientist concerned with teaching mice table manners. In a curious turn, Nathan, obsessed with being well-groomed, falls in love with Lila (Patricia Arquette), a nature writer who has hair over her entire body, though he doesn't know it. Lila gives up her soul, and tries to remove her hair (through surgery). Once wild and untamed, Lila attempts to become sophisticated for Nathan. One day while they are hiking in a forest, Lila and Nathan run into an uncivilized wild man named Puff (Rhys Ifans), who has been reared as an ape. Nathan, who believes every human being should be civilized, brings Puff to the city. Against Lila's belief that Puff is happy as he is, Nathan soon takes steps to tame Puff, to make him not only a talking ape, but also a well-mannered one. After numerous electric shocks, Puff is able to read "Moby Dick" and to appreciate Monet's paintings, but he has difficulty controlling his sensual desires. The sight of any female causes him to grab her. It's Nathan's electric shocks that turn Puff into a decent human being who says, "That shan't happen again."

Though Nathan is happy about his taming of Puff, when Nathan sees Lila shaving the hair that covers her body one night, he deserts her and falls for his exceedingly feminine French assistant. That causes Lila to plot revenge, which leads to an unexpected ending.

Ifans, best known as Hugh Grant's very odd roommate from "Notting Hill" (1999), does exceedingly well as a noble savage. On the other hand, the talents of Kaufman and Robbins are wasted. Kaufman presents a story that is supposed to be hilarious but is often so crude that it annoys. Some of Kaufman's ideas are brilliant, though, such as opening the film with different statements by Nathan, Puff and Lila.

The film takes viewers to a place where they've never been before, but it's likely they won't enjoy being there. Scheduled to open Friday in Korea.

by Chun Su-jin

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