Disneynature Chimpanzee (2012) * * *
Directors: Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield
Narrator: Tim Allen
Bob had been really looking forward to seeing Chimpanzee. He loves animal and nature films in general, and so was very excited to see the story of Oscar the Chimpanzee. I was not excited, but he's been to plenty of my sci-fi films lately, so it was time for me to reciprocate.
Unfortunately, both of us left the theater slightly disappointed.
First off, let me say that the cinematography is stunningly beautiful! This was somewhat to be expected, and in that respect the movie definitely does not disappoint - the movie is gorgeous.
What the film didn't do well was tell a good story. The story of Oscar and his mother is cute, and the baby chimp is adorable, but after awhile, watching a tribe of chimpanzees wandering around the jungle eating gets boring. So they tried to weave in a story about a rival gang of chimps who are trying to steal food from Oscar's tribe, and Oscar's mother dies as a result of the rival groups' attack, leaving Oscar to fend for himself. But the way the directors piece the footage together, you don't actually know that a fight is happening if the narrator hadn't told you so.
I assume that the complete lack of animal violence was purposely done to keep the children in the theater happy (or their parents at least), but really, there was nothing in the film to show a fight of any kind. If the narrator had described the other tribe coming over for a party it would have been just as believable. The same is true towards the end of the film when the rival group launches a second "attack" on Oscar's tribe. If there was no narrator to tell the audience that an attack was happening, no one would have guessed from the film footage. It might have just been a single chimpanzee dancing in the jungle and pounding on a tree root - so thank goodness Tim Allen was there to convince me that a dangerous and violent battle was being fought!
Don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to advocate that children's films should be more violent! But they should be somewhat truthful, in my opinion.
My other complaint with the film was the narration by Tim Allen. It was disjointed and awkward, and felt in places as if random sentences had been strung together by someone with no writing experience at all. Some of them didn't even make sense, especially compared to the action happening on-screen. There were also too many juvenile and unsuccessful attempts at humor, including a really bad "Tool Time" reference. However, the movie is fairly short at only 78 minutes, so we didn't have to endure Tim Allen's inappropriate jokes for long.
I think that we've come to expect a really high level of quality from anything that Disney has a hand in, and so we both just felt slightly disappointed with this film. However, I'm fairly confident is asserting that children under 10 will love it, so it still gets three stars from me, even though I didn't care for it much.
On the plus side though, the next time I want Bob to go see a sci-fi movie with me that he's not crazy about seeing, I'll be able to say, "You owe me - I sat through that whole Chimpanzee with you."
Have you seen Chimpanzee? What'd you think? Let me know in the comments!