Human Nature

Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter of Being John Malkovich, tries for something equally wacky, in a comedy purporting to be about civilized and uncivilized behavior. A woman (Patricia Arquette) with a hormonal disorder that causes her to grow large amounts of body hair becomes a recluse living in the forest and writing about nature. Later she gets involved with a stunted scientist (Tim Robbins) who's reduced by his own upbringing to teaching table manners to lab mice, and both link up with a feral man (Rhys Ifans) the scientist wants to “civilize.” All this leads to a lot of easy laughs as well as to declining narrative interest; the characters remain stuck in their cliche profiles, and the direction—by music video specialist Michel Gondry—doesn't improve matters. The cast—which also includes Miranda Otto, Rosie Perez, Robert Forster, and Mary Kay Place—does pretty well with the limited material. 96 min.

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