Von Autor und Oscar nominee Charlie Kaufman war nach seinem Geniestreich BEING JOHN MALKOVICH vor zwei Jahren einiges zu erwarten. Mit seinen cleveren, geistreichen Wendungen, skurrilem Witz und nicht zuletzt durch eine glänzende Starbesetzung enttäuscht HUMAN NATURE die Gebete seiner Fangemeinde keineswegs.
Erzählt wird die Geschichte einer höchst bizarren, farbenprächtigen Menage à trois: Puff (Rhys Ifans), Sohn eines modernen Tarzan, wächst in völliger Isolation und in dem Glauben auf, er wäre ein Affe. Kein Wunder also, dass er sich in die zuckersüße Lila (Patricia Arquette) verliebt, die unter einer hormonellen Störung leidet und nicht nur für eine Frau ziemlich stark behaart ist. Allerdings ist Lila mit dem zugeknöpften Forscher Nathan (Tim Robbins) liiert, dessen Experimente darin gipfeln, kleinen Nagetieren Tischmanieren einzubleuen. Während Lila und Puff ihre animalischen Triebe bald nicht mehr im Zaum halten können, berauscht sich Nathan immer stärker an der Idee, Puff per Elektroschock in die Zivilisation zu verhelfen...
Lila (Patricia Arquette) fled to the woods at the age of 20, after hair entirely covered her body. She becomes a famous reclusive nature writer, a very hairy Annie Dillard, but finally returns to civilization because she's so horny. Puff (Rhys Ifans) is a man who was raised as an ape, thinks he's an ape, and is cheerfully eager on all occasions to act out an ape's sexual desires. And Nathan (Tim Robbins) was a boy raised by parents so strict that his entire sexual drive was sublimated into the desire to train others as mercilessly as he was trained.
With these three characters as subjects for investigation, "Human Nature" asks if there is a happy medium between natural impulses and the inhibitions of civilization--or if it is true, as Nathan instructs Puff, "When in doubt, don't ever do what you really want to do." The movie involves these three in a menage a trois that is (as you can imagine) very complicated, and just in order to be comprehensive in its study of human sexual behavior, throws in a cute French lab assistant (Miranda Otto).
None of which gives you the slightest idea of the movie's screwball charm. The writer, Charlie Kaufman, must be one madcap kinda guy. I imagine him seeming to wear a funny hat even when he's not. His inventions here lead us down strange comic byways, including Disneyesque song-and-dance numbers in which the hairy Arquette dances nude with the cute little animals of the forest. (Her hair, like Salome's veil, prevents us from seeing quite what we think we're seeing, but the MPAA's eyeballs must have been popping out under the strain.)
Early scenes show poor Nathan as a boy, at the dinner table with his parents (Robert Forster and Mary Kay Place), where every meal involves as much cutlery as a diplomatic feast, and using the wrong fork gets the child sent to his room without eating. As an adult, Nathan dedicates his life to training white mice to eat with the right silver, after the male mouse politely pulls out the female mouse's chair for her.
Then he gets a really big challenge, when the ape-man (Ifans) comes
into his clutches. Nicknaming him Puff, Nathan keeps him in a Plexiglas
cage in his lab, and fits Puff with an electrified collar that jolts him
with enough juice to send him leaping spasmodically into the air every
time he engages in sexual behavior, which is constantly. Lila the hairy
girl, meanwhile, has turned herself over to a sympathetic electrologist
(Rosie Perez), who fixes her up with Nathan--who does not know she is
covered with hair and, if he did, would be sure it was bad manners.
The movie is the feature debut of Michel Gondry, who directed a lot
of Bjork's videos and therefore in a sense has worked with characters
like these before. (...) If it tried to do anything more, it would fail
and perhaps explode, but at this level of manic whimsy, it is just about
right. You had better go alone, because in any crowd of four, there will
be three who find it over their heads, or under their radar. They would
really be better off attending "National Lampoon's Van Wilder,"
unless you want to go to the trouble of having them fitted with electric
collars." Chicago Sun Times