Owen Gleiberman
April 10, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Human Nature

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
96 minutes
Limited Release Date
04/12/02
performer
Patricia Arquette, Rhys Ifans, Tim Robbins, Robert Forster, Rosie Perez
director
Michel Gondry
distributor
Fine Line Features
author
Charlie Kaufman
genre
Comedy

We gave it a C+

Is there anything more coy — more quaintly civilized — than a movie that goes to high comedic lengths to insist on our ”inner animal,” complete with performers getting naked and acting like horny apes? Human Nature, the latest metaphorical head trip written by Charlie Kaufman (”Being John Malkovich”), features a trio of very modern and deluded beasts. Patricia Arquette is a woman afflicted with copious body hair, and Tim Robbins is a repressed behaviorist studying a blond Tarzan (Rhys Ifans) who gets schooled in the ways of polite society.

The experiment goes swimmingly until Robbins begins to feel the tug of his own — nudge, nudge! — primitive urges. ”Human Nature” might have been left over from the anthro-chic ’60s, except that the director, Michel Gondry, has staged it in the winky ironic style of a Wes Anderson wannabe. The movie is too cute to take itself too seriously, but it still feels like it was made by some very stoned college students.

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