Saturday, 2 July 2011

Holy Wood Part II [Review: Me Cheeta]

Me Cheeta is the autobiography of chimpanzee Cheeta, presented here as the co-star of the original Tarzan films alongside lifeguard-turned-actor Jonny Weismuller. It's ghost-written by James Lever, making it precisely as authentic as 90% of other Hollywood autobiographies and arguably better researched, although there is a tendency to downplay the fact that in real life Cheeta was played by a series of chimps.

I don't usually read autobiographies of any sort - if I did I'd have probably enjoyed this spoof even more, but it's a strong comic novel in it's own right.

This is a one-joke novel, but the joke itself has enough complexity to sustain the plot - Cheeta at the end of his career is looking back knowingly on his innocent beginnings, always enthralled by humanity, and the more he is exploited, the more he loves us. It's the perfect frame for a series of stories about Weismuller, David Niven, Maureen O'Sullivan and the rest of the set. The No Reel Apes campaign to end use of live apes in cinema is name-dropped from time to time although Cheeta himself is scathing. "That's what CGI is, Don, just men in suits."


Monkey Migraine said...

The part about ghost written biographies is funny because it's true

Sci-Fi Gene said...

Actually I paid someone else to write that bit for me.