You might hope that Hollywood learned something after “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” proved how well CGI animals can replace live ones in movies. But, “Rock of Ages” tells a different story.
The musical film opening this weekend features a live baboon as part of the entourage of Tom Cruise‘s character Stacee Jaxx, and Cruise says it was his idea. “I wanted to play [my character’s scenes] real but also we needed the comedy and that’s why, when we kept working on it, there is a scene that we have with the manager, you know, and in the script it had Stacee yelling [at his manager, played by Paul Giamatti]. So that’s when I said, ‘I need a monkey,” the actor said in an interview with Ryan Seacrest, according to Vanity Fair.
So…why would that mean he needed a monkey? Apparently, Cruise thought that without a monkey, there just wouldn’t be comedy. “I’m looking for what thing is going to help comedically. Because [Jaxx is] totally outrageous but yet I wanted to play it straight and have these different moments that evolve. […] You kind of have to go for it. So that’s where I came up with the monkey and then Adam [Shankman] kept going, ‘Look, do we need the monkey?’ And I kept saying, ‘I really need the monkey. And then he came at me with the baboon,” he adds. “Rock of Ages” was first a Broadway musical, and no primates were featured on stage (no nonhuman primates, that is).
Animal advocates and organizations aren’t too happy with Cruise and Shankman’s decision to have a baboon as a “co-star.” Primate Patrol has called for a boycott of the movie.
“Please avoid contributing to the box office receipts for ‘Rock of Ages’ – don’t go see it! Monkeys used for entertainment are taken from their mothers when they are young, and when they become to old or too big to handle are often discarded at shoddy roadside zoos or pseudo ‘sanctuaries.’ They are highly social beings and life in the entertainment industry completely disregards the need that they have for adequate exercise, natural nourishing diets, and valuable interaction with other primates. Primates are afflicted by loneliness, boredom, and depression from the loss of freedom they experience in the entertainment industry,” the organization writes. They add that the baboon, named Mickey, was recently on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and that he exhibited “abnormal behaviors and a fear grimace.”
Primate Patrol is a division of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest which rescues and provides sanctuary to chimps rescued from biomedical research labs. Primate Patrol works to end the use of nonhuman primates in entertainment.
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