With six films under its belt accompanied by a steady source of income, it is almost certain that the DisneyNature documentaries will become a regular summer tradition along side the steady stream of blockbusters.
You may want to think twice before rushing out to your nearest theater for Chimpanzee, the brand’s newest entry.
The story, at least the one the trailer advertises, follows a young chimpanzee named Oscar whose mother is killed after various circumstances too complicated to explain here. The young orphan is then adopted by the alpha male of the large chimp community, Freddy.
While the trailer makes the story seem simple, that “story” doesn’t really appear until halfway through the film. We see Oscar begin his life, and are then filled in on the circumstances involving a rival chimp community.
These chimps are led by the alpha male, “Scar.” —Subtle.
One of the biggest things that got old pretty quick was Tim Allen’s narration of the film. The first act of the film is filled with forced humor and shoehorned Home Improvement jokes. There were times when the stuff was legitimately funny, but it felt unnecessary, like it was put in for either bored children or the adults that took their children to see this film.
The film is incredibly well shot, featuring some pretty good aerial shots as well as some impressive time lapse photography. However, some of the time lapse stuff is shown without context, probably put in by the editors because they either worked hard on it or it looks cool.
Speaking of context, another thing this film doesn’t do too well is actually informing the viewer about the subject. We get some nice tidbits here and there about the daily habits of chimpanzees and the jungle, but there are times that a little extra exposition about what we are being shown would have really helped.
Now I’m not saying this is a bad film. I’m just explaining that, as a documentary, it has its flaws. When it comes to telling it story, it does an okay job. If you took out a majority of the narration and just had visuals and music, it would have probably made for a stronger film.
Overall, this film’s a bit of a mixed bag for me. It does an okay job telling the story it wants to tell, but it’s not really the most informative documentary one can find on chimpanzees. On my personal scale, I give Disney’s Chimpanzee a 3/5.