Review: What Did Jack Do?

Jack Cruz in “What Did Jack Do?”

Dir. David Lynch. 17 minutes.

After a decade of semi-retirement, legendary auteur David Lynch has returned to give us… a 17-minute movie about a talking monkey. Newly available from Netflix, “What Did Jack Do?” shows us a conversation between a veteran homicide detective (Lynch) and Jack, an equally hard-bitten capuchin monkey (Jack Cruz). The victim is Jack’s former flame, a chicken who crossed the road only to be gunned down in cold blood.

This short film will scratch the itch of anyone who misses David Lynch or who thinks a film noir starring a suit-wearing monkey sounds like a funny idea. Lynch’s dialogue, consisting of loosely connected crime clichés, follows a vaguely threatening dream-logic, and there’s never much hope that the central chicken-murder will be resolved. “What Did Jack Do?” is less a self-sufficient film than a disembodied scene drawn from the detective novels and private hallucinations that have fascinated Lynch since he produced “Eraserhead” in 1977.

“What Did Jack Do?” is what you get from a director of limitless talent working on a very limited budget: an uncanny, unhinged, hilarious trifle. Not to be taken seriously, but not easily forgotten, either.