Big brown eyes. Tiny, squishy baby belly. And a face every mother, child and family would love.
That’s Oscar, a baby chimpanzee who will steal your heart and I am sure of this because he stole mine.
The makers of “Earth” and “African Cats,” Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, have created a new Disneynature feature called, “Chimpanzee” that takes you deep into the heart of the African Tai Forest, about 60 miles inland, to follow the journey of a chimpanzee family that includes three-month-old Oscar, his mother “Isha,” and the group’s leader, “Freddy.” The film is narrated by Tim Allen (Toy Story, Home Improvement), which adds some comic relief to the storyline, exactly when its needed.
Over the course of the journey, we get a glimpse inside the chimpanzee family’s complex world amid the dense forest and the intricate details of their daily lives, from finding food to protecting their borders. There are a few surprises and heartbreaks along the way, but in true Disney style, it is all wrapped up with a happy ending.
I do know one thing for sure. Africa is beautiful.
Chimpanzee is the fourth installation in the Disneynature series. The creators of the previous Disneynature films, “Earth,” “African Cats,” and “Oceans,” are also the same people behind several of Discovery Channel’s ”Planet Earth,” episodes, which I used to love with its beautiful scenery and calm, peaceful musical backdrop.
The scenery they have captured in “Chimpanzee” is just simply put, breathtaking.
The majestic waterfalls, the sun going up and coming down over the forest and the crazy awesome time lapses they have added throughout the film (how much time that must have taken!) — particularly watching a spider carefully craft its delicate web in a matter of seconds because thanks to technology, or witnessing the circle of life for the jungle flowers; you just can’t help but feel transported to a place that you might not ever get to visit otherwise. I appreciated the art of what it is they were doing. It was art.
The Movie That Almost Wasn’t
During the making of the film, there was a point where the filmmakers realized it was possible that the hundreds of hours they have put into the film were for going to be for naught. The lives of the family of chimpanzees had taken a tragic turn, leaving Oscar to fend for himself, which significantly lessened his chance for survival in the wild. Just as the film was getting ready to wrap, what happened next was nothing short of a miracle for little Oscar. An unlikely caretaker emerges that surprises even Dr. Jane Goodall, the foremost expert on chimpanzees. The turn of events breathed new life into the film and into the hearts of all of us who got to watch what transpired next.
I couldn’t help but giggle to some of the music that the film was set to, all jolly and jovial, almost circus-like at times as the cameras capture the chimpanzees playing and almost dancing through the trees. The real treat was the song written especially for the movie and sung by the McClain Sisters, led in vocals by China McClain (A.N.T. Farm) and her sisters, Lauren and Sierra. It’s called, “Rise,” and honestly it is a song that touches me personally and as we sat and listened to the words at the end of the film during the credits, my eyes got all misty.
I loved this film.
I loved the story of how it almost wasn’t and I loved the story of how, through a miracle, it was. I love that the movie echoes the tale of so many in the jungles of wild Africa and in life in general really, it’s an inspiring story of survival, it’s about overcoming obstacles, and the need for a village along the journey.
I love that it took a village just to make this movie and that this movie is so much more than the movie, it’s just a seed that will hopefully grow something greater. In 1960, there were one million chimpanzees. Today there are 1/5 of that. So for every person who sees this movie in the first week of its opening, Disneynature will donate money to the Jane Goodall Institute to continue the work of saving the chimpanzees in Africa.
The movie is rated (G) and opens Friday April 20. Parents, I should note that there is one scene that I was initially worried about, where the chimpanzees went hunting, however, it was done very tastefully. They didn’t show anything and so I don’t think I have to worry about it for my 4 & 6 year olds. I will be prepared to answer some questions from them about what hath transpired during the hunting scene, but we are very open about the circle of life here so I am sure it will be ok.
FINALLY, if you love chimpanzees like my little mens do (we are currently in a primate phase — we have a kajillion monkey, chimpanzee, ape & gorilla stuffed animals because of my 4 year old’s deep affection for all things primate right now), I have a giveaway for you that you will love!
One lucky reader will get a Chimpanzee prize pack! Which will include:
- The Making of Chimpanzee book
- A Little Oscar
- A Reusable Chimpanzee Bag
Mine are in love with this prize pack. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below about the movie, whether you’re going to see it, what you think about the previews, anything. And then enter in the Rafflecopter form. Good Luck!
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