David Lynch’s gift to his fans, on his 74th birthday today, is a peculiar and hilarious 17-minute short film titled “What Did Jack Do?”, which debuted on Netflix with a very enticing one-sentence synopsis: “In a locked down train station, a homicide detective conducts an interview with a tormented monkey.”
Shot in grainy black-and-white, reminiscent of classic movies of yesteryear, and Lynch’s own 1977 feature film debut, “Eraserhead,” the short film features Lynch playing a detective, interrogating the “Jack” in the title about a murder investigation, in the typical darkened, windowless interrogation room. The twist? Jack is a suited small monkey that actually speaks.
As you’d expect from Lynch, it’s quite bizarre and unsettling, but also very funny, whether intentional or not.
It’s an oddity of a film that Netflix categorizes as a crime drama, but it really can’t be adequately put into words, and is best experienced in non-synopsis form. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it will easily be one of the strangest things that viewers at home for the holiday can watch today.
The monkey’s voice is credited as “Jack Cruz,” but it’s unclear exactly who is really behind it. There’s also a waitress who appears for a few seconds, played by Emily Stofle.
“What Did Jack Do?” will demand multiple viewings, whether to make sense of it, or just to marvel in its surrealism. (The story may or may not also involve a chicken named Toototabon. Classic Lynch.)
In 2019, Lynch received an Academy Honorary Award, which represented his very first Oscar win, despite a storied resume.
His last major project was the “Twin Peaks” revival series, which was released in 2017 to much critical acclaim. The series consisted of 18 episodes, and concluded in September 2017 with a two-part finale. There has been speculation as to whether there will be another season of “Twin Peaks.” Although Lynch has not denied the possibility of another season, he has said if it were to happen, it would be a fourth season that will not air before 2021.
In the meantime, “What Did Jack Do?” is available to stream on Netflix right now.