Swanner: This week I saw the new Disney Nature film Chimpanzee. It tells the story a young chimp named Oscar and how he survives over a year with his tribe. I must admit it was like being at home on a Sunday night in the 70’s watching the Wonderful World of Disney. Documentaries are a funny creature. Some are informative and some tell a story. Our journey with Oscar was a sweet story of survival in a very beautiful location.
Judd: I’m not into the Disney story-telling documentary. I’d much rather see the blood and guts of the wild. Beast versus beast versus a just-as-vicious Mother Nature. I want National Geographic. I want a hawk eating a mouse. A vulture eating corpse. If it’s a documentary about monkeys, they better show some poo flinging.
Swanner: OK … The story follows the tribe as they look for food and try to maintain control of their area from other groups of Chimps. I was expecting the music from West Side Story as one of the other groups of chimps do try to force out Oscar’s tribe because they have nut trees that supply much of their food. (spoiler alert) I did want to mention that Oscar’s mother is killed, which is standard for a Disney movie, and Oscar needs to find one of the older chimps to adopt him or he would certainly die.
Judd: The movie is OK for kids, and I did laugh at cutesy silly things here and there; but I thought, overall, the movie felt slow. And of course Oscar’s mother died – I wouldn’t put it past the Disney film crew to have staged it just to follow formula. Grease a few palms, make a backroom arrangement with a cheetah. “She’ll be at the nut grove around three o’clock. Make it look like an accident.”
Swanner: Disney did not put a hit on Oscar’s mother. It was a bit slow and I didn’t think Tim Allen’s narration didn’t do anything to make the film better where a good narrator can do amazing things to a documentary. As I mentioned the cinematography was amazing. I still don’t get how they can film the chimps without disrupting their lives. It’s how can reality shows be natural with a cameramen following you around but Disney does it and does it well. I have to applaud Disney for not making this too much of a weeper and keeping it more on the positive side.
Judd I agree, the camera work was amazing. The images were well framed, sharp and crystal clear. They also did a few neat things with some time-lapse photography. I also agree that Buzz Lightyear is not the best choice for a narrator, but I suppose it’s a change from Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones. I’m old-school, I’ll take Nature’s George Page any day. For an adult without children, I recommend staying home and watching something more engaging on Discovery or Animal Planet. But for someone with kids, Chimpanzee is a descent throwback to The Wonderful World of Disney.