I needed to do this, for my 19-month-old daughter. I needed to know the answers before she begins to ask the question, “Why?”. I needed to know what it’s like now, as an adult and as a father.
My family visited the L.A. Zoo this past Saturday. My wife, an animal rights advocate, painfully went along with my plan after some time of convincing. The plan was to visit my father, who was doing a remote broadcast for the radio station he works for in the Los Angeles area. I wanted to show our support for him and expose our daughter to some extremely unfamiliar sights and sounds: the people of Los Angeles.
My wife and I saw Chimpanzee last Friday and were quite moved. Every adult in the theater was in tears half-way through this Disneynature movie, including us. It’s a powerful, organically simple film centering around the leader of a small tribe, “Freddie”, who adopts a young male chimp, “Oscar”, after the death of Oscar’s mother.
It’s a very rare scene to witness, let alone capture the exact moment at which an adult male chimp adopts and cares for a youngling. It created some rather touching moments between the two underdogs.
There were a few moments where I felt the film took an exploitative turn to manipulate the footage to make it “a story” with music and dialog, but that’s Disney and it’s kind of what they do – otherwise the film would have been an amazing use for a documentary on NatGeo.
In addition to the chimps, the real stars of the film were the director (Mark Linfield), the cameras, and the cameramen.
What impressed me the most was the amazing footage that was captured by these high resolution cameras. I really felt like I was in the rainforest, watching time go by as nature unfolded in front of me. The movie seemed to connect my soul to the screen – that was until parts of the script Tim Allen narrated had me rolling my eyes. The transitions between Allen’s 3rd and 1st person narrative didn’t do it for me, in fact it siphoned my emotions out of the scene. So there’s that.
Chimpanzee isn’t about “fatherhood” like the trailers led me to believe. It’s primarily about love and acceptance in an different world where humans can relate. I didn’t find many lessons outside of compassion and leadership that I could take home. I felt it was primarily a powerfully cute story that made me miss my daughter for those 90 minutes.
Hopefully I’m correct in saying that Chimpanzee won’t ever go 3D – and you don’t have to see it in the theaters to really appreciate what the crew did to capture the sights and sounds. If you are able bypass the over-dramatized nature of the music and Tim Allen’s voice over, I’d recommend you see this movie at least once.
Adults and parents will be emotionally touched and kids will love the movie for different, more simplistic reasons.