Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In the heat of the day, the parents just want some peace and quiet.

On Monday, I took my son to the zoo in Baltimore. It was hot, and I decided not to bring the stroller (bad call), but we had a pretty good time regardless. Considering this almost three-year old loves Monster Jam, Star Wars and Marvel Super Heroes, I thought the zoo might be boring. But, as summer fades away, I'm trying to make a last-ditch effort to do things we normally wouldn't. Now, the movies isn't one of those things, but one that's not animated? Well, this was a first.

Chimpanzee is a charming little documentary. While it actually tells the story of a baby chimp named Oscar, it might as well have been about my own son, Matthew. Both are extremely needy and curious, and both seem to always get into trouble. Adding to that, both are hairy and smell weird, but ultimately adorable and loving. Throw in a little overbearing love of mom, and these two could be twins. Though my son's never been attacked by a rival gang of monkeys and forced to flee his home. At least not yet.

On a hot day in late July, this movie was perfect. In fact, for the Summer Series at our theater, this showing was bananas. We actually arrived right on time, but due to the lines and a holdup at concessions, we probably missed the first five minutes. But as soon as we heard Buzz Lightyear telling us about a villain named Scar, we knew we were suckling the the warm teet of mother Disney. This one was going to be a crowd-pleaser, no doubt.

The visuals are incredible, and probably would have been even more so had we not been in the third row. Still, scene after scene is filled with breathtaking visions of the African jungle and all the wild stuff that inhabits it. I'm not sure how much of the film is culled from the stellar Planet Earth, but it's of that insane caliber regardless.

I hate to be That Guy, but the story seems almost too good to be true. Early on, the focus of the narrative is the relationship between little Oscar and his mother. She's incredibly patient and does all she can to teach him how to do things for himself. Then, rather suddenly, things go the way of Bambi, and our little chimp is cast off to die alone. But something very unexpected happens, and it brings tears to the eyes of the filmmakers (who show up during the credits and reflect on what we've just seen). My son is too young to really understand what was going down (The monkey hit his foot, Dad), but I think I heard some sniffles in the crowd, too. The story is so touching, it made the skeptical jerk in me, question it, if only for a minute.

Turn around, let me check your back for some Yays and Boos. And when we're done, let's smash this breakdown with a rock, and eat all the goodness inside. Mmm. Sounds tasty.

All he handed in was a paper smeared with feces.
  • Despite most people loathing it, I enjoyed Tim Allen's narration. He provided just enough laughs.
  • Chimps are inherently funny. I mean look at that dude. Hilarious.
  • Their nest creating ability is really cool, as was all the bits where they eat (ants on a stick?).
  • I'm pretty sure I saw another chimp give young Oscar and airplane ride. Haven't seen that in the theater since Grosse Point Blank.
  • And finally, 78 minutes was the exact amount of time my son was going to sit still. Brilliant!
Shh, don't tell, but the one on the right? That's Andy Serkis.
  • Okay, Tim, I liked the jokes, but the Home Improvement sound? Thanks for that. For a minute, I'd almost forgot I'm old. 
  • Chimps are trying to sleep and the damn jungle is way too loud (frogs and such). This sadly reminded me of how much I hate where I live (jerks and such).
  • The rival chimpanzee gang? Those guys are real jerks, with the whole nut-eating and rival chimp-killing.
  • Wait. Even our chimps, are jerks? Turns out that chimps need meat. So they slaughter other monkeys and devour their asses. Hey, we all gotta eat, but if this documentary had been about those guys, I bet I'd be pissed.
  • And finally, our tickets cost us a dollar each. Cool. Popcorn? A gigantic medium was three bucks. But our 20 oz. bottle of water? That mess was five bucks. Absurd.
So, with this little documentary, my son and I have gone to our last summer movie. Yes, the dreaded back to school madness has returned. My son will soon be placed in his own exotic zoo, half-day preschool. And the big chimp? Oh, I'll try to survive in a slightly different jungle: middle school English.


  1. It was a nice little nature documentary, but there was nothing else to it other than that. It was a pure 78-minute time-limit and had a semi-interesting story that kept me watching but it was pretty much. Good review M.

  2. Reading the synopsis I'm also a little sceptical about its authenticity, but I wouldn't mind too much if its entertaining. Last year's chimp documentary "Project Nim" was one of my favourite. features of 2011. I doubt this will as good but still looking forward to see it.

  3. I've never heard of Project Nim, but I'll look into that. I don't see how anyone could be disappointed with this one, though. It's not life-changing, but it's interesting and sweet, regardless of how old you are.

    And, it's got monkeys doing stuff which is always great.