This year, Disneynature’s latest "Earth Day" release zeroes in on one of the cutest fellas in the Congo: the "chimpanzee." Directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield who created the award winning "Earth" TV series, "Chimpanzee" was originally supposed to be about a chimp named Oscar and his mom. But during filming, tragedy struck and Oscar was orphaned, leaving him scared and alone with no one to care for him. What happened next is what the filmmakers decided to celebrate.
Lushly filmed, "Chimpanzee" is a terrific looking movie that offers interesting - but mostly superficial - information about chimpanzees. Most of the day-to-day life of the chimps has been explored in other offerings over the years, so this bit of education is mostly geared toward the younger set. That said, it’s still fairly involving and Oscar is pretty darn adorable. The odd thing is that the film is advertised as if Oscar’s care by a chimp other than his mother is going to be the focus of the film. This occurs more than two-thirds into the movie and aside from being an "aww" moment, there isn’t much more to add once we know Oscar will be cared for. And we got that from the trailer.
Still, "Chimpanzee" is an interesting and entertaining distraction, not as epic or adventurous as other nature films, but fascinating to watch regardless. Kids will love it and even though there are a few bits of violence - one when the chimps attack a band of monkeys for food, and another when Oscar’s mother is killed - neither are disturbing. Thankfully, the violence is off-screen and manageable for the younger set.
A note: for every ticket sold in the film’s opening week of release (April 20-16, 2012), Disneynature will make a donation to the Jane Goodall Institute through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund in order to protect chimpanzees and their habitats.
Narrator :: Tim Allen
Producer, Alastair Fothergill; Producer, Alix Tidmarsh; Cinematographer, Martyn Colbeck; Cinematographer, Bill Wallauer; Film Editor, Andy Netley; Original Music, Nicholas Hooper; Producer, Mark Linfield.