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April 22, 2012 | 12:56 p.m. CST
In Disneynature’s sixth feature film, Chimpanzee, moviegoers are treated to an intimate look at the circle of life for a community of chimpanzees.
The focus of the story is the baby chimp, Oscar. Real conflict and a Darwinian dilemma emerge when a rival group of chimps tries to take over land protected by Freddie, the leader of the pack Oscar and his mother belong to. Battle ensues. The rival group has greater numbers as well as older and bigger members. The attack and subsequent chaos leaves Oscar separated from his mother and his pack.
Oscar finds his way back to his extended family, but his mother never does. The young chimp is left without a teacher and unprotected. Without a caregiver, he is not likely to survive.
He tries to find a new mother in the community but is rejected because most females already have a baby. Something unprecedented happens when Freddie, the alpha male, decides to adopt Oscar. But his role as foster parent prevents him from patrolling the borders of his community’s territory leaving them vulnerable to another attack like the on that made Oscar an orphan.
Moments of human likeness and tenderness such as washing fruit before eating it, making a bed before sleeping, strikingly emotive eyes, embraces and kisses dominate the screen. There are plenty of scenes of undeniable cuteness and monkeying around as well.
Tim Allen delightfully narrates the story. He offers colorful commentary and even an occasional voice to the chimps.
As a G-rated picture, the audience never sees the vicious side of jungle. However, brutality is evident as the chimps hunt small monkeys for meat and Oscar’s mother’s demise by leopards is implied.
Exotic scenes of fog rivers settling in the forest canopy and networks of actual rivers rushing water to the heart of the jungle like arteries take over the screen. A massive, majestic sunrise and time-lapsed images of alien-like vines and fungus creeping along the jungle floor accompanied by an epic sweeping score are sure to captivate and fascinate.
Even the credits are worth staying for as the film and production crew reveal their emotional reaction to seeing an alpha male embrace an infant and the struggles of filming in some of the most impenetrable and hazardous landscapes in the world.