Disneynature, Walt Disney Studios nature movie division, brings us yet another great documentary this weekend. Like the films that came before it, (“Earth,” “African Cats,” “Oceans” and “The Crimson Wing: Mystery of Flamingos”) “Chimpanzee” is a family-friendly romp deep in the forests of Africa.
“Chimpanzee” is the story about Oscar, a cute little chimp, just learning the ropes (or vines) of life with his mother, Isha and his unlikely bonding with the group’s leader, Freddy. With crystal clear photography, we get to see what most people never see, chimpanzees and apes in their natural habitat. The group is surprisingly sophisticated smashing nuts with rocks and poking around in stumps with sticks looking for bugs. You can’t help but “ooh” and “aah” watching Oscar and Isha cuddle together. However, life can be cruel in the jungle, and halfway through, Oscar gets separated from his mother which can be sad for younger movie-goers. There is also an attack scene, but the filmmakers shield us from much of the action. With that said, it may be worth having a pep talk with your children before seeing the movie to prepare them. You can reassure them that everything works out for the better by the end of the film.
The film is narrated by Tim Allen, which at first may seem like an odd choice. However, he does a very good job at story telling with just a hint of humor. Following in Walt Disney’s footsteps, a pioneer in wildlife documentary filmmaking himself, directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield and their crew followed little Oscar for over three years to make this film. In addition to all the footage of the chimps, there are some time-lapse photography scenes that are just incredible including glow-in-the-dark vegetation! At the very end of the film, we get to see how this crew went to great lengths including falling down hills in the rain and getting bitten by bugs, to get the footage.