Skip to main content

'Chimp' off the old rain forest

Published May 08. 2012 05:01PM

"Chimpanzee" is an extraordinary glimpse into the secret life of one of the earth's most fascinating primates and the world of the rain forest.

The world of the rain forest?

Yes, in the close up look inside the Ugandan rain forest that the documentary film "Chimpanzee" offers, the rain forest seems a world apart, perhaps a world on another planet, similar in ways to the fictional alien world of the movie "Avatar" (2009).

A team of dedicated and life-risking film-makers spent three years tracking, observing and filming a group of chimpanzees.

One chimpanzee group is led by Freddy. A rival chimpanzee group is led by Scar. Freddy guards his territory, at the center of which is a coveted nut treat.

Figs and nuts apparently are the main diet of chimpanzees, with the occasional raw meat of a slain monkey.

The slaying is shown, but the killing is shielded so adults need not worry about the need to hide or avert their young one' eyes, nor their own.

When Oscar's mother dies in a battle between the rival chimpanzee groups, it appears that he may perish because he is rejected by female and other chimpanzees in his group. Then, Freddy "adopts" him, which is considered highly-unusual for an alpha male chimpanzee to do.

The film-makers-producers-directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield (Emmy winners for "Blue Planet" and "Planet Earth" who also did "Frozen Planet" and "Earth") seem to capture the dynamics of the chimpanzee group.

The film-makers kept a safe distance from the chimpanzees, not only for their own safety but for that of the chimpanzees. Film-makers wore surgical masks to minimize the spread of human germs to the chimpanzees.

From sweeping aerial vistas of the rain forest canopy to extreme close ups of the chimpanzees eating, at play and sleeping, "Chimpanzee" is compelling and thrilling.

The narration is excellently written. Narrator Tim Allen is a smart choice. Allen, the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the "Toy Story" animated films and former star of TV's "Home Improvement," adds asides, seemingly giving voice to the chimpanzees' emotions. He also seems knowledgeable about all those chimpanzee tools, in this case, rocks to crack the nuts.

Use of a "Jungle Book" (1967) like song creates a light-heartedness at the start of the film and sets up the drama of the clashing groups of chimpanzees.

It's a jungle out there. "Chimpanzee" takes you to the heart of it. These chimpanzees are "Champanzees."

"Chimpanzee," MPAA Rated G (General Audiences. All Ages Admitted); Genre: Documentary; Run time: one hour, 17 minutes; Distributed by Walt Disney.

Credit Readers Anonymous: Caro Emerald sings "That Man" and The McClain Sisters sing "Rise" on the "Chimpanzee" soundtrack.

Box Office, April 27: "Think Like a Man" stayed at No. 1 for a second week with $18 million and $60.9 million, two weeks; holding off "Pirates! Band of Misfits," opening at No. 2, $11.4 million.

3. "The Lucky One," $11.3 million, $39.9 million, two weeks; 4. "The Hunger Games," $11.2. million, $372.4 million, six weeks; 5. "The Five-Year Engagement," $11.1 million, opening; 6. "Safe," $7.7 million, opening; 7. "The Raven," $7.2 million, opening; 8. "Chimpanzee," $5.4 million, $19.1million, two weeks; 9. "The Three Stooges," $5.4 million, $37.1 million, three weeks; 10. "The Cabin in the Woods," $4.5 million, $34.6million, three weeks

Unreel, May 3: "The Avengers," PG-13: Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) brings the gang together to save Planet Earth in the Science Fiction Action film: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain American (Chris Evans), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). The movie, expected to kick off the summer movie season yes, earlier than ever took in $178.4 million overseas, where it opened for the April 27 weekend.

"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," PG-13: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson star in the comedy about British retirees at a hotel in India.

Email Paul Willistein and on Facebook.

Four Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

Classified Ads

Event Calendar


January 2018


Upcoming Events

Twitter Feed

Reader Photo Galleries