Wednesday 15 August 2012

The Barefoot Executive (1971)

Ahhhh, those innocent and happy days when fresh-faced Kurt Russell was a big star for the Disney studio and it was okay to laugh at chimpanzees dressed up and being amusingly near-human. Alright, it's easy to look at these Disney movies from the past now and dismiss them as nothing more than time capsules full of some dubious content choices but I have to admit that, putting aside the whole humanised monkey aspect of the thing, I enjoyed this film quite a bit.

Kurt Russell plays Steven Post, a young mail delivery boy (Post! Delivery boy! See what they did there?) who wants to further his career with the TV network that he works for. Nobody else thinks he's capable of this but he finds a golden opportunity landing in his lap when his girlfriend (Heather North) ends up looking after a chimpanzee and that chimpanzee shows an uncanny, and unfailing, ability to pick the top rated TV shows. Armed with this information, Steven starts to make a name for himself but everything relies on people not realising that the programming is being picked by a monkey.

It runs for just over 90 minutes, it has a chirpy song over the main titles, Kurt Russell is as likeable as ever and there's a cute monkey. Yes, this adds up to easily enjoyable Disney fare. The supporting cast also features Joe Flynn, Harry Morgan, Wally Cox and a young John Ritter and they're all entertaining in their roles.

The screenplay by Joseph L. McEveety is pretty simple stuff and the direction from Robert Butler is decidedly average but the movie doesn't suffer because of these things. It's a simple film, one that doesn't need any major flourishes to keep things moving along nicely, and it's something that remains very easy to spend some time with even in this day and age of ever-increasing channels, decreasing viewing figures (barring the major, "unmissable" events it's obvious to most people that greater and greater choice has led to a decrease in the quality of programming and a more fractured audience share for big companies) and the knowledge that at least some of the programming for TV nowadays IS being picked by monkeys, surely.


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