Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Unexpected Families

Rated: PG  Nature and animals
Release Date: April 20, 2012
Runtime: TBD

Director: Alistair Fothergill, Mark Linfield
Cast: Tim Allen, Oscar the chimpanzee, Freddy the chimpanzee, Scar the chimpanzee

SYNOPSIS: Baby Oscar navigates the forested wilds of the African jungle with the support and mentoring of his mother and the close knit family of chimpanzees, facing extraordinary - and sometimes dangerous - situations.

REVIEW: The cameramen, directors and crew trek into the African jungle for a new Disneynature 'True Life Adventure', this time involving the social structure of the chimpanzee. What it takes to film the scenes
 of this nature documentary could be a movie unto itself, but what is in front of the camera is just as amazing.
Starting from when he is barely a couple months old, chimpanzee Oscar clings to his mother. Each day Oscar learns, or tries to remember, the skills that he will need to survive in the lush, beautiful and harsh African jungle environment. His mother selflessly teaches the young troublemaker how to find food and stay away from danger, all the while giving him her mother's milk and the first scraps of the food she finds. Within the highly social group, Oscar and his mother are surrounded by other males, females and babies who look out for one another. Leading the group is Freddy, a mature alpha male, who has years of wisdom and skills to match the white whiskers adorning his furry chin. During the changes in seasons, the group of chimpanzees must forage and travel for a diet of food that includes figs, nuts, fruits, insects, leaves, and other animals. When a rival group of chimpanzees, led by a war weary Scar, start to test the boundaries of Freddy's territory in search of food to feed his larger and stronger clan, Oscar and the rest of Freddy's family must do their most to remain safe and protect their lands.

No matter how many Discovery Channel documentaries are aired on basic cable, it is still amazing what you can learn and feel for the animals of the planet. Of course, the spotlight on little baby Oscar does its job to galvanize our hearts to root for he and his fellow chimpanzees as they trek through the forest and through life. How can any person not be affected by innocence of a baby mammal, whether it be a puppy, kitten, or baby chimpanzee. And as he tries to venture out on his own a little or mimic what the older children or mature adults are doing, you cant help but slip a smile or a faint 'aaawwww' when Oscar slips off a branch or hits himself in the foot finger with a rock as he tries to break open a nut she with a rock. But Oscar's intelligences shines through as he weaves a platform in the treetops to prepare a bed to keep himself safe from the nocturnal predators below.

The story is simple but rich throughout, including practical lessons of skills and survival. Oscar learns what he needs from his mother, protected, fed and adored by her. And with the rest of the group, they must all together as a team or, better yet, a family to complete the job of looking for nourishment each day. One day's chores are easily completed as the fruits, nuts and other protein becomes readily available throughout their kingdom. Other days, though, require venturing out past their boundaries into other chimpanzees' territory. Must like the Meerkats series on the Discovery channel, the chimpanzees face threats as often on a daily basis as not. Leopards prowl the night under the jungle's canopy, forcing the clan to move up into the trees. And rival clan leader Scar continues to test the boundaries of Freddy's kingdom for weaknesses as he looks to pillage Freddy's plentiful food stores during most of the year's seasons.

Tim Allen narrates with skill and a sometimes funny script. He may not have the voice-over majesty of one Morgan Freeman but Allen's voice is capable and warm, adding to the sense and style that the film required. He even gets one of his classic Tool Time references in there for good measure, to the betterment of the story. Allen even slips into some of the chimpanzees' skins for a moment with appropriate lines that seem like they would certainly be coming from them. The fact that the animals are so expressive helps in that regard as well.

The scenery is lush and gorgeous, shot in periods of slow-motion, long pans, and beautiful stationary shots. Put together as a whole, the film tugs at the heart and bubbles up a hopeful spirit within. One of the main focuses of the film involves a loss in Oscar's life, and a resulting unexpected bond that is a surprise. If the people making Chimpanzee are taken by what they have captured on film, it is easy to say that the same would be true for the audience.

NOTE: Proceeds from Chimpanzee in the first week of its release will be donated to the Jane Goodall Foundation.

WORTH: Matinee or Rental

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