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Movie Review: Chimpanzee

April 20, 2012

Chimpanzee – A Walt Disney Pictures’ Release

Release Date: April 20th, 2012

Rated G

Running time: 78 minutes

Alistair Fothergill (dir.)

Mark Linfield (dir.)

Nicholas Hooper (music)

Tim Allen as Narrator

©Walt Disney Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Oscar and Freddy in Chimpanzee.

Our reviews below:


Chimpanzee Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

With charming and nicely done narration from Tim Allen, Chimpanzee is a touching and beautifully filmed documentary that follows the life of Oscar, an adorable young chimp who spends every day learning how to find food with his mother.  When tragedy brought on by a dangerous turf war with a rival troop fighting for food separates him from his mom, he is left starving, alone and abandoned.  Oscar’s story becomes miraculous when he is adopted by Freddy, one of the older males in the group who is determined to raise him as his own.

Like with the other three films in the Disney•Nature series, Chimpanzee is powerful in its messages of conservation because it allows the breathtaking images to speak for themselves.  When directors Alistair Fothergill and Mark Linfield set out to make Chimpanzee, they had no control over what they would capture and couldn’t have predicted the heartwarming and profoundly human story that they ultimately ended up documenting.  They film everything with a candid lens, showing us how the animals find food and interact with each other in their everyday lives.   The time-lapse shots are just mesmerizing, allowing us to witness the passage of time as plants grow and spiders spin their webs.

At the heart of Chimpanzee is an adorable protagonist and a touching story about family that can be appreciated by those of all ages, making this a beautiful film that stays with you long after leaving the theatre.  Disney•Nature has also partnered with the Jane Goodall Institute and a portion of the opening week proceeds will be donated to the important charity, which is just another one of the many reasons why Chimpanzee comes highly recommended.


Chimpanzee Review by Erin V.  

**** (out of 4)

The fourth in Disney•Nature’s theatrical series of Earth Day films, comes Chimpanzee.  The film follows baby chimp Oscar and his family in a remote area of Coté d’Ivorie.  This area is practically untouched by humans because of its remote nature, so the only threat to Oscar’s family comes from a rival band of chimps.  I found this to be a particularly interesting element, because while we all know about the threats chimps face from humans, it was interesting to see their own untouched world of interaction for once.  Rather than showing us what we have already destroyed, it gives us a look into what we should continue to protect.  The world of chimps.

I’m not touching too much on the story that they captured on film, because the film is short and it is best to just see it for yourself.  The narration by Tim Allen is fun and keeps the film moving for both kids and adults, and the soundtrack is very good as well.  A jazz song that plays during an opening scene is matched with impeccably edited visuals that fit the words.  The song is reprised again at the end, now having new meaning, creating a really nice circular feel.

As in previous years, go see the Disney•Nature film during opening week, and a portion of ticket sales will be donated – this year, to Jane Goodall’s foundation to help save chimps.


Chimpanzee Review by Nicole

**** (out of 4)

Once again, Disney•Nature has come out with a wonderful film depicting both the hardship and love that occurs among animals.  Oscar, a young chimpanzee, lives with his family of 35 chimps, including his mother Isha and troop leader Freddy.  They follow a peaceful existence, picking nuts and berries in their neck of the woods.  However, a rival troop of large males, run by a curmudgeon named Scar, have run out of food.  They have now begun to raid Freddy’s nut tree, resulting in fights that leave Freddy’s family scattered and Isha dead.  None of this is shown.  However, something remarkable happens.  Freddy adopts Oscar, something an alpha male chimp normally wouldn’t do.  Oscar’s new father teaches him how to crack nuts with rocks and fish for ants.  He even lets him ride on his back.

Chimpanzee is a beautiful film.  The footage of the chimps is amazing, capturing every emotion and nuance of the animals perfectly.  One can easily see how closely related they are to us.  The time-lapse photography of fungi ties various scenes together well.  The score by Nicholas Hooper is also quite good, and the song “That Man” is also used well here.

But what is most remarkable is the story, so eloquently told by Tim Allen and expertly written from the unmanipulated and real footage of the two chimpanzee troops that have been uncorrupted by humans.  Chimpanzee is one of Disney•Nature’s best, with such an inspiring and heartwarming true story.  Go see it in theatres and support the Jane Goodall Institute.


Chimpanzee Review by Maureen

**** (out of 4)

Once again, Disney has created a visually beautiful film celebrating one of the many creatures that we share our planet with, in honour of Earth week.  Disney•Nature’s Chimpanzee shows the heartwarming story of an adorable baby chimp named Oscar, his life with his mother Isha and the other chimpanzees in their group.  When his mom is killed by a rival group of chimps, Freddy the alpha male adopts Oscar, something that normally doesn’t happen with animals.

The footage of these interesting animals is spectacular.  Watching the chimpanzees using tools to crack open nuts and forage for insects is amusing and fascinating.  Watching them work together as a team to teach the younger ones and look out for another is also fascinating.

Along with beautiful footage and educational value, Chimpanzee has heart.  Oscar’s story is told in such a way that we care about the little guy from start to finish.  Narrated by Tim Allen, Oscar’s story is told with a nice mix of humour and sincerity.  The accompanying jazz songs, especially “That Man” and the musical score keep the tone upbeat and energetic.  There are some intense scenes that will be a little scary for the six and under set.  However, school age kids should be able to handle the reality of Oscar’s life.

Chimpanzee is a wonderful way for families to honour Earth Day together and learn about Jane Goodall’s work with these special animals.  Help Disney help chimpanzees by seeing the moving opening week.


Chimpanzee Review by Tony

**** (out of 4)

Chimpanzee is the latest Disneynature release for Earth Day 2012. The simple story involves young Oscar, orphaned by a raid from a rival troop and remarkably adopted by the alpha male Freddie. We are treated to intimate images of supportive behaviour, not only between parent and offspring but also the typical grooming that forges bonds within the troop. Satisfying the endless need for food includes the use of tools–twigs to catch insects and rocks to crack nuts–as well as cunning collaboration to run down monkeys. Aggression between rival troops is also shown, though young audiences are spared as usual from too much violence.

Though world chimp numbers have dropped about 80% in the last 50 years due to habitat depletion and poaching, the population filmed in the Côte d’Ivoire rainforest is relatively safe due to its inaccessibility. The closing credits give just an inkling of the hardships faced over four years of filming by cameraman Martyn Colbeck under BBC directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, making the beautiful close-up images of chimp life all the more remarkable. By concentrating on one little character in a small group, Chimpanzee is more focused and therefore more emotionally satisfying for family audiences than previous Disneynature features. The charming folksy narration by Tim Allen manages to avoid anthropomorphism while describing chimp behaviour in terms that humans can easily appreciate. The musical score prepared by Nicholas Hooper provides a fine accompaniment to the action.

Overall, Chimpanzee is a first-rate nature documentary that looks brilliant in theatres and will continue to satisfy home audiences as well.


Consensus: A touching look at the daily life of an adorable young chimp named Oscar, Chimpanzee is another excellent and beautifully filmed documentary from Disney•Nature that inspires conservation through the power of its images.  **** (Out of 4)

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