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Spanking the Monkey
     

Spanking the Monkey

Director: David O. Russell

Cast: Jeremy Davies, Alberta Watson, Benjamin Hendrickson

 
David O. Russell burst onto the scene with this challenging and controversial film about an introverted college student and the incestuous disaster of a summer that follows his freshman year. Ray Aibelli (Jeremy Davies) returns home for what is supposed to be a short visit with his family prior to leaving for Washington D.C., where he will intern in the surgeon

Overview

David O. Russell burst onto the scene with this challenging and controversial film about an introverted college student and the incestuous disaster of a summer that follows his freshman year. Ray Aibelli (Jeremy Davies) returns home for what is supposed to be a short visit with his family prior to leaving for Washington D.C., where he will intern in the surgeon general's office. Ray's plans are quickly scuttled by his acerbic and controlling father (Benjamin Hendrickson), a salesman leaving on an extended business trip, who strong-arms Ray into caring for his depressed mother (Alberta Watson) while she recovers from torn ligaments in her leg. Gently prodding his mother to begin using crutches so he will no longer have to change her bedpans and carry her about the house, and so he can still arrive belatedly for the internship, Ray discovers that his mother is not only physically but emotionally dependent on his presence. She begins making inappropriately tender displays of her affection for him, which only become more complicated when he has to rub lotion underneath her cast to soothe her itches. As that relationship grows increasingly fuzzy, Ray must also deal with the sputtering advances of a neighborhood high school girl (Carla Gallo) and the overly aggressive chiding of his estranged group of friends. Russell both scripted and directed this critically acclaimed debut, which courted controversy by following the mother-son relationship into uncomfortably frank and off-limits territory. ~ Derek Armstrong

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
David O. Russell was rattling the cage right from the start. The title of his directorial debut is a common euphemism for masturbation, and its subject matter is the Oedipal relationship between a college-aged son and his bedridden mother. But Spanking the Monkey does not get by on sheer audacity alone. Its complexity far exceeds its shock value; in fact, it's hard to figure out whether it's the blackest of black comedies or a drama sprinkled with uncomfortable laughter, leaving video stores at a loss for where to catalog it. That's due not only to Russell's finesse with directing absurdist set pieces, such as Ray having to help his mother shower or brush his squirmy dog's teeth, but also with the scathing details of a screenplay that bleeds a certain twisted truth. Ray is caught in an unending cycle of embarrassment and futility, and it's reflected in all of his relationships: his exacting bastard of a father, his depressed mother, his mercurial sort-of girlfriend, and his juvenile sort-of friends. Even his dog has an uncanny knack for interrupting Ray during his few "moments alone." Russell documents Ray's personal hell with an unflinching eye for discomfort and hopelessness. Jeremy Davies, so memorable as the cowardly soldier in Saving Private Ryan, makes a richly textured starring debut, expertly charting the death throes of the character's optimism. Alberta Watson, as the other half of the taboo central relationship, gives a remarkable performance as an aging temptress weakly struggling against her own self-loathing. After this risky debut, Russell went mainstream with the hilarious Flirting With Disaster and the incisive Three Kings, but continued to find ways to flout conventions in each of his films.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/06/2005
UPC:
0014381139020
Original Release:
1994
Rating:
NR
Source:
Image Entertainment
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen, Color]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital Mono]
Time:
1:40:00

Special Features

Audio commentary by director David O. Russell; Theatrical trailer; Stills gallery; Illustrated insert with New York Times review

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Spanking the Monkey
1. Main Title [2:38]
2. Unexpected Domestic Duties [8:35]
3. Ray's New Friend [5:54]
4. A Special Place [3:30]
5. Mother's Prying [8:57]
6. Like Old Times [3:59]
7. Wanting to Leave [5:36]
8. Awkward Affection [4:49]
9. Mother Knows [5:01]
10. Forbidden Feelings [4:36]
11. The Morning After [5:35]
12. Downward Spiral [3:09]
13. Tension Mounts [3:40]
14. Reconcilliation With Toni [3:33]
15. Daddy's Home [4:02]
16. Heavy Petting [5:30]
17. Peck's Concern [4:00]
18. Phoning Dad [4:35]
19. Looking to Get Out [3:23]
20. Free at Last [5:16]
21. End Credits [2:55]

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