Chimpanzee is the latest release in Disney’s “Disneynature” line of nature documentaries. Which, if you’ve ever seen any of the previous installments, such as Earth, Oceans, and African Cats, then you know how awesome these things are. Typically full of incredible shots of animals in their most primitive form, that make you wonder how the filmmakers even were allowed to capture this footage. It’s truly remarkable stuff. And that’s what Chimpanzee is.
It’s the story of a little baby chimp named Oscar. The little dude just kinda hangs out with his mom Isha all day and spends 100% of his time being CUTE. AS. HELL. Him and Isha reside in a pack of Chimpanzees led by this really tough Chimpanzee named Freddy, that are in search of fruits and nuts and such. They’ve got their typical territory that they patrol, making sure no other packs come in. Packs like their main rival Scar’s pack. They’re a mean bunch, all loud and banging on trees and stuff. But, for right now we’re just enjoying Oscar being ridiculously cute.
Little Oscar was just like a real human kid. When his mom crafts them beds high up in the trees for bedtime, rather than going to sleep, he lays there restless, climbing all over the place and bugging the crap out of her. And when all the Chimpanzee’s gather these special nuts that are so hard to crack, that they need rocks to break them open, Oscar attempts to mimic what everyone else is doing. But he keeps using hollow logs that break upon impact. The whole scene is really funny because he just keeps going to get bigger and bigger logs, yet they all break over this little nut. Poor little guy was so confused by it. But of course, his mom shows up and cracks the nuts for him and helps him out. There’s a lot of cuteness in this documentary. A LOT.
However one night during a storm, as Freddy’s gang are all sleeping, Scar’s pack moves in and attacks. During the fight, Oscar’s mother is killed. He spends weeks looking for her, and can’t fend for himself very well. Until a really really cool thing happened. The group’s alpha male, Freddy? That cool dude? He adopts Oscar. Freddy takes Oscar under his wing… and into his heart. He starts feeding him and showing him how to do things, like crack nuts, eat fruits, and fish for ants. This whole adoption process, according the film, was the first time something like this has ever been captured on film. It really was super cool to see.
Chimpanzee is narrated by Tim Allen. Which, for me, at times got a little annoying. I would have been completely cool with no narration, just nothing but footage of these Chimp’s hanging out, but I get why it’s there. He did a good job of it, so I can’t technically fault it’s existence. Plus there’s a tiny little Tim Taylor cameo in it, which I massively enjoyed.
Chimpanzee’s greatest feature was it’s photography. It was jaw droppingly stunning. Tons of epic sweeping shots of the jungles. Most were rigged up by hand, by sliding the camera across wires connected by tree branches, high up in the jungle. There were also a lot of really cool time lapse shots, one in particular of a yellow spongey substance growing over everything in it’s sight. The time lapse stuff seemed to really highlight aspects of the jungle that aren’t usually shown. I really liked it, and thought that it added an extra depth to the film. The filmmakers clearly went through A LOT to capture this incredible footage. While it very briefly covers that during the credits, I’d be really excited to see a full Behind The Scenes feature.
So if you’re looking for a massive dose of cute overload this weekend, go see Chimpanzee. And plus, every person who sees this film during it’s opening week, will have a donation made for them by Disney to the Jane Goodall Institute, to help protect little dudes like Oscar.
I give Chimpanzee 4 Tim Taylors out of 5:
By Richard Pepper