“Chimpanzee” Brings Africa to the Screen

Kay M Roth | Staff Writer

Disney has done it again. “Chimpanzee”, the latest Earth Day special from Disneynature, is a visually spectacular movie that tells the story of a cute little chimp named Oscar. Narrated by Tim Allen, the film, which runs one hour 18 minutes, follows the adventures, tragedies and misadventures of little Oscar. While it is a film for all ages, very young children should be prepared for the death of Oscar’s mother.

Set in jungles of the Ivory Coast and Uganda, “Chimpanzee” is set against the stunning jungles that stretch for miles and are home to a wide variety of wild animals, including Oscar, his mother Isha, other mothers with young chimps and Freddy, the elder male. The group lives together and daily searches for food in order to survive. They must fend off other animals, including another group of chimpanzees set on overtaking their territory.

The jungle is a playground for young Oscar and the other chimp youths as they learn how to climb trees, play, and grow. As Oscar grows, he learns life lessons that will serve him throughout his life- how to forage for food, how to build a bed high in the trees and how to escape from attacks by the other chimps. Another lesson, one Disney seems to utilize often, is the death of his mother.

When Isha is killed by the rival chimps, little Oscar is left to fend for himself. He tries to get some of the other mothers to take him under her wings but none are willing. As Oscar slowly weakens, it appears his days are numbered. Freddy steps in and becomes a surrogate parent to the young chimp so, as is also common in Disney movies, the ending of the movie is upbeat and positive.

Tim Allen’s narration is a combination between knowledge and some of the corniness we came to know when he portrayed Tim the Tool Man Taylor. In my opinion, this adds to the film by giving movie goers emotions that they might not otherwise get from just seeing the chimpanzees on the screen.

“Chimpanzee” is the fourth release for Disneynature, the first major film label Disney has created in over 60 years. In this film, Disneynature joined forces with the Jane Goodall Institute, giving a donation for every ticket sold through May 3.

As a documentary, “Chimpanzee” is rated G but might be a bit much for very young children unless parents prepare them for Isha’s death. I found it very well made, visually pleasing and, thanks to Allen’s storytelling, very entertaining.

What do you think?