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Great footage....annoying, at times, narration.
MartinHafer4 January 2020
I have noticed something after seeing several of the recent Disney nature documentaries. Several of them are perfect--among the best films of their type ever made. This would include "African Lions" and "Crimson Wing". However, there also are some that instead of showing the footage and providing intelligent narration, they instead try to tell a story and often ascribe human feelings, actions and emotions on the animals. It's as if the narrator is expected to entertain the audience instead of letting the footage speak for itself. The worst of these that I've seen is "Born in China", a film whose narration is simply inane. While "Bears" isn't nearly as bad as "Born in China", its great footage is likewise often overshadowed by the occasionally dopey narration. It is quite strange that such a scientific and informative film is shackled with insipid narration at times. And, unfortunately, the same is true (though to a lesser extent) in this film, "Chimpanzee"...a film which too often favors cutesy or funny narration over accuracy and information.

"Chimpanzee" is not as visually striking as some of the Disneynature documentaries and it's because instead of having gorgeous panorama shots of the plains or lakes, it's constricted and is filmed entirely in the dense forest. After all, this is where Chimps live! And, there is still some lovely footage to be seen--particularly when an alpha male suddenly and unexpectedly becomes the foster parent for a young chimp. Great footage in this sense.

This film can be enjoyed by everyone, even with some inane narration. Much of it is because although you see chimps fight in the film, they don't show how truly nasty chimps can be. I've watched other documentaries where male chimps tear baby chimps apart and eat them....and it's pretty nauseating to watch. Fortunately, this one is murder-free! It also never mentions that chimps have very, very active sex lives...and then have it very often (though it's amazingly brief)....and again, Disney chose not to go there. So parents don't have to's pretty kid friendly and enjoyable by all.
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Journey of the chimps
TheLittleSongbird1 March 2021
While some DisneyNature documentaries are better than others, they are mostly very interesting and a common factor is that they are extremely well made. As well as having amazing animals. When it comes to the music and the narration (writing and delivery), those are the aspects where the quality has varied (mostly flawed). Saw 2012's 'Chimpanzee' for DisneyNature documentary completest sake, as well as being a great fan of nature documentaries, Disney in general and the intimate approach to the storytelling.

My thoughts on 'Chimpanzee' are very similar to those for 2014's 'Bears' and 2019's 'Penguins'. Except that it is marginally better than them. While they may look superior visually, 'Chimpanzee' is a little more successful when it comes to the narration (although that aspect is not perfect here either), which does a little better at entertaining and educating. The strengths that those two had are exactly the same pretty much though in 'Chimpanzee'.

'Chimpanzee' succeeds a lot more than it doesn't, and has more good things than bad. The best of the good things fantastic. While not the most refined looking of the DisneyNature documentaries (namely the editing), 'Chimpanzee' does wow visually. The scenery is stunning and captured colourfully on camera. The chimps also look wonderful and the way they are filmed is remarkably vivid. The music on the most part is fine, it fits well tonally and doesn't feel too overused or melodramatic. Did appreciate that some values and messaging were included, they were relatable ones and they were not laid on too thick.

Absolutely love the chimpanzees. Oscar is an adorable, very funny and rootable character, his mischievous antics were a joy to watch but it was also easy to relate to his struggles in survival. 'Chimpanzee', like 'Bears', does better than most DisneyNature documentaries on the educational aspect, where the information given was informative and illuminating. Also really loved the wide range of emotions shown by the animals, was touched by their journey and struggles, amused and charmed by their mischievous antics and inspired by how they deal with what they have to undergo. Also inspiring and honest was what was done with the values taught, which didn't come over as too preachy, and the tone doesn't feel muddled.

By all means, 'Chimpanzee' isn't perfect. The music at times is intrusive and the editing at times is rushed looking and choppy.

The aspect that left me very conflicted was the narration, not uncommon with the DisneyNature documentaries as this was always the most variable aspect. It was entertaining and educational enough generally and Tim Allen delivers it amiably. It also doesn't spill out the animals' emotions too much. However, for me there was at times too much juvenile humour, there could have been less of it (especially in the more dramatic moments) and can over-explain.

Overall, good but not great. 7/10
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"...survival is all that matters".
classicsoncall24 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Exceptional cinematography of chimpanzees in their natural element is the principal draw for this documentary styled film. All throughout however I felt the story line was manufactured and didn't find it all that credible. I didn't realize it was Tim Allen narrating until I read about it here; his low key manner didn't quite click with this viewer, and in hindsight, the scenes of chimps using 'tools' to crack nut shells might have been better handled by his 'Home Improvement' partner Richard Karn. There were a couple instances that I thought might not be appropriate for young kids, the death of Oscar's mother was handled well enough but some youngsters might not take the news too favorably. The chimps hunting monkeys for food was another, that was a new one on me. I never would have guessed chimpanzees could be meat eaters so you learn something new everyday, though I can't say I'm the better for it now that I know. I haven't seen that many wildlife documentaries to make a comparison, this one was okay as far as it goes, but it didn't have me going 'Wow'.
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Okay, though not a must see
Wizard-85 July 2013
This is the second nature documentary from Disney that I've seen, and like the other one I saw, it's a mixed bag. On the positive side, it is very well photographed, with some spectacular shots (especially on Blu- ray). It's also not boring, and there are some interesting revelations on the lives of chimpanzees and what they have to go through.

Unfortunately, at the same time this documentary has some serious flaws. Most obvious is the narration by Tim Allen, which is often very annoying and jokey. I realize that they were trying to attract kids, but I think Disney could have found a narrator that would appeal to both kids and their parents (and written better things to say.) Also, the events that we get to see sometimes come across like they were concocted in the editing room. It was not a surprise when I read other user comments here after watching the movie that gave evidence that this documentary wasn't always telling the truth as to what actually happened.

There is some good stuff here, but adults will probably have some issues with "Chimpanzee" all the same. So it's best to show it to your kids while you are out of the room doing something else.
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One of Disney Nature's Best.
anaconda-4065829 May 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Chimpanzee (2012): Dir: Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield / Narrator: Tim Allen: The best Disney Nature documentary since Earth, and presents an opportunity to highlight wildlife that is threatened due to poaching and habitat loss. It begins with stunning shots of African jungle including heavy fog blanketing the trees in the morning. It regards a clan of thirty plus chimps but focuses on Oscar, a curious baby chimp who depends on his mother. One of the strength of the film is how viewers can relate to much of what these creatures are dealing with. Oscar observes as his mother uses rocks to crack nuts, but often his attempts lead to some of the film's amusing moments. Another interesting moment arrives when they bend smalls branches to form a bed. Suspense occurs when a band of rival chimps invade, led by Scar. If memory serves correctly, that was the name of one of the lions in African Cats as well. Perhaps it is a popular name amongst wildlife as oppose to Bill, Tim or Satan. Oscar's mother becomes injured during one of these raids and they become separated. This leads to Oscar's mother becoming fast food to a leopard. Oscar is pretty much rejected from other female chimps but finds refuge in the most unlikely place. The leader, Freddy adopts him. With this responsibility he also must be watchful of Scar. That isn't all roses either since Scar is under threat by rivals who wish to replace him as leader as well as the ever looming presence of leopards. The jungle photography is stunning and backs up a message of motherhood, bonding, friendship, and companionship in the unlikeliest places. Score: 10 / 10
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Bring the kids.
jdesando24 April 2012
Calling Chimpanzee a documentary is only half right, for this sometimes contrived narrative seems so fabricated as almost to call into question the authenticity of the whole production. Three-year old chimp Oscar loses mom; alpha male Freddy adopts him. That seems fine until the battles between rival groups for the nut field guarded by his mom's tribe appear narratively convenient and cunningly edited.

But I must remember this production is sanctioned by Chimp champion Jane Goodall, so anything contrived is probably minimal. Yet that photography and chimp-intimate moments make it a delight.

Chimpanzee is the only G rated film I have seen recently, and deservedly so. Although the fights and the deaths are undoubtedly accurate in the Tai Forest of the Ivory Coast, the cutaway shots that brook no blood give the film a surreal cast, as if the story were fashioned by a child who could not fathom violence. Moreover, it is known that females will eat untethered little-uns; such observations do not pass the relaxed lips of Tool Time's narrator, Tim Allen. Really, Jungle book is more terrifying.

But I digress. The photography of the primates in their natural habitat is downright gorgeous, and the use of slow motion is more appropriate and restrained than any I have seen in years. One time-lapsed shot of rain drops falling on puffballs is not only exquisite but also so artful as to seem gratuitous, inserted for beauty's sake, not the story (although a figurative interpretation could be devised, but, hey, this is a documentary, not an art film).

The scenes running with the credits show some of the apparatus, including high-strung cable with remote camera, and time is spent to verify the plot line of the bonding alpha and Oscar.

So I'm back again to admiring the photography and grousing about the fabricated-seeming story. The narration is sometimes goofy and the music manipulative.

Just take the kids and enjoy; they will not be as whiny as I.
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The Vidiot Reviews...
capone66621 August 2012

The wild can be a dangerous place for a chimpanzee. Mostly because tire swings in their natural form are attached to speeding vehicles.

Fortunately, there are no SUVs for the primates in this documentary to be pinned under.

When his mother is killed in a territorial skirmish with a rival tribe lead by the cruel Scar, a young chimp named Oscar must learn to survive on his own.

Lonely and emaciated, Oscar struggles to retain the survival lessons that his mother instilled in him, but to no avail.

Luckily, an unpredictable bachelor in the tribe does something completely unexpected and adopts the orphaned ape as his own.

Narrated by Tim Allen, this Disney nature documentary features fantastic up-close footage of life amongst our relatives, paying particularly close attention to how their empathy apes our own.

However, in cases like this, I always thought that guardianship went to the monkey's uncle.

(Yellow Light)
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Chimps Are The Coolest, Craziest Critters!
strong-122-4788859 April 2015
Unfortunately (for me) the minuses of this particular "Disneynature" documentary clearly out-weighed its pluses by a jungle mile.

And (for me) the biggest, most irritating minus in "Chimpanzee" was having to tolerate Tim ("I'm-So-Funny") Allen's totally idiotic, voice-over narration. Allen's asinine, and completely unfunny chin-wagging got so bloody annoying that, before long, I had no choice but to watch most of this nature-documentary with the sound turned right off.

This documentary also lost serious points for not only injecting into its tale of the jungle horrible, pop music that didn't blend in with the scenario - But it actually had the absolute stupidity of bringing unwelcome humans into the action, as well. Thankfully this nonsense took place in the story's final 10 minutes.

On the other hand - What really impressed me about "Chimpanzee" was its excellent camera-work - Not only of the chimps, but of the beautiful African setting, as well.

Anyways - Tim Allen's irksome yattering aside - From a purely visual standpoint, "Chimpanzee" was certainly well-worth a view.
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Fun Romp with Adorable Star in Disneynature's 'Chimpanzee'
rannynm19 April 2012
Fun Romp with Adorable Star in Disneynature's 'Chimpanzee'

It's unanimous. All three of our KIDS FIRST! youth film critics who reviewed Disneynature's documentary Chimpanzee (below) loved the film – and the chimps it depicts. Talia Rashba says, "If you aren't a fan of chimpanzees now, then this film will make you love them!" Brianna Beaton (12) calls the film "amazing" and "heartwarming" as she shares, "I absolutely love how it captures the bond between a loving mother (Isha) and her adorable young son (Oscar)." Morgan Bertsch (7) says, "Chimpanzees are much smarter than I ever thought." And it's spiced with humor, thanks to narrator Tim Allen.

Chimpanzee by Talia Rashba

This is the best nature movie ever! I had a wild adventure in the beautiful African rain forest, watching a group of chimpanzees live their lives. This movie has no human characters — the real stars of the movie are actual chimps that live in the rain forest off the coast of West Africa.

This film is a documentary, the story is very real. We meet a little chimp named Oscar, and his mom Isha, who live in the forest with a group of several other chimps. We see their everyday life and how they interact with each other. When they get attacked by a group of rival chimps, Oscar is left all alone until someone comes to help him.

Oscar is a fun, playful and adorable little chimp who always stays by his mother's side. When you first look at little Oscar, you will instantly fall in love with him. He sometimes gets confused, especially when he is searching for food. This makes for some very laughable moments.

Isha, Oscar's mother, is a very loving and protective parent who will do anything to keep her son safe. Freddie is the leader of the troop and is very dependable and strong. He protects and guards the group and he knows how to do everything that they need.

Chimpanzee is narrated by actor Tim Allen. You might recognize him as the voice of Buzz Lightyear from all three Toy Story movies. He definitely adds a lot of humor to the film and he helps explain a lot of what is happening with the animals.

There are SO MANY amazing parts to this movie. The rain forest is absolutely gorgeous, and the way they get close-ups of tiny creatures and plants is outstanding. Just the way they capture raindrops falling onto a leaf or a mushroom blew my mind. The directors of this movie are the same ones who made the award-winning film Earth, and I think they did an excellent job with this movie as well.

If you aren't a fan of chimpanzees now, then this film will make you love them! You will see just how smart they are and how much they are really like us. I give it 5 out of 5 stars!

Chimpanzee by Brianna Beaton

This is a very heartwarming and lovable film.

I absolutely love how it captures the bond between a loving mother (Isha) and her adorable young son (Oscar). Tim Allen narrates this amazing, heartwarming film, and boy is he doing it well! I like how he uses humor and is really describing the chimpanzees' actions. My favorite scene is when Oscar is trying to open a nut with several tree limbs that fail, but then, after much determination, he realizes that the rock is the right tool to use to crack it open.

Chimpanzee is a documentary set in the deep forests of Africa. It tells the story of Oscar, a young and playful chimpanzee that has a good life with his friends and family. Oscar is curious and wants to learn everything he can. But when separated from his mother Isha, during a fight for territory between their group and a rival group, the learning stops and he has to look out for himself. When everyone else he knows is rejecting him, the one person that you would never expect to take him in does — and changes his life forever.

Alastair Fothergill (African Cats, Earth) and Mark Linfield (Earth) share in directing this nature film. It gives you an up-close experience of what the chimpanzee life is all about. During this film, you will see that chimpanzees have needs and feelings just like humans do.

Chimpanzee is great for ages 7 and up. During the battle seen, it may be a little too much for younger ages.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars because of all the touching scenes between Oscar and his fellow chimpanzees. It left me wanting to know more about Oscar.

Chimpanzee Reviewed by Morgan Bertsch

The most amazing thing about Chimpanzee, for me, was the views from the top to the bottom of the rain forest. You get to see clouds, amazing water falls, plants and flowers that take weeks to grow that bloom in seconds. I loved the glowing mushrooms scene. Probably one of the coolest scenes I've ever seen. The cinematography is breathtaking.

Now for Oscar's story. Little Oscar is orphaned after a territorial war with another band of chimpanzees lead by Scar. That was really scary because baby chimps cannot survive without the care of their mothers, until the age of seven.

Chimpanzees are much smarter than I ever thought. They have to learn how to use tools to gather food. They use sticks to gather ants and bugs and rocks to crush open nuts. It takes years for the mothers to pass along this information to their babies. What will Oscar do since he can't feed himself of even know what to eat? Playing with honey bees is not the best choice for one as little as Oscar.

I give it 5 tinkling stars.
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Remarkable Disney Documentary
larrys329 September 2012
This is the story of the baby chimp Oscar, and his clan of 35 monkeys , as they struggle to survive in the jungle forest. It contains truly incredible nature photography of the clan as they interact with each other, search for food, use tools when needed, and protect themselves from neighboring monkey troops.

At first, I thought the story was fabricated and edited to where Disney wanted to go with the film. But when you see the filmmakers and what they went through to get the amazing close-up shots that they did I realized that was not the case. I believe this was the same crew that filmed "African Cats" which was another spectacular documentary.

Without disclosing too much of the plot, let's just say a dramatic event happens to Oscar during the film, and what happens thereafter is stunning and I'm sure extremely unusual.

Tim Allen narrated the film in a very lighthearted way. From what I've read this hampered the film for some, but for whatever reason it didn't bother me.
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Good show they did a great job making it
MR_Heraclius20 February 2020
I really liked Chimpanzee. Not a movie, but a true story, and a damned good one. If you're an animal lover or a nature enthusiast, if you enjoy perfect cinematography, if you've got a heart at all, you will probably enjoy it.
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Go ape.
Quietb-123 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Beautifully photographed almost documentary. Takes liberties for a documentary. The Chimpanzees are given names. (Why are the bad guys in Disney jungle films always named Scar?) The Tim Allen narration attempts to convey the chimps thoughts, maybe they were thinking about something else?

It's told from the point of view of the "good" Chimps. Perhaps the tree monkeys didn't find them so good when they hunted them in their tree home, caught one and ripped it apart for a meat meal. The violence is glossed over so not to shock the younger viewers.

As you would expect from a Disney Nature film, it's good family entertainment. The over the end credits showing the production crew would make for another excellent documentary.
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Should have been so much better
treeline15 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Tim Allen narrates the story of Oscar, a young chimpanzee, who is raised by his loving mother, Isha. They live in a large extended family and the little chimp gradually learns to find food and use tools. All is idyllic until a rival chimp tribe decides to invade their territory.

The photography is very enjoyable but Tim Allen was a poor choice for narrator with his tool references and grunting. He nearly ruined the film for me. His voice is too casual and low-brow. I wish they had used Morgan Freeman instead.

The soap opera storyline was overdone. In most cases, it seemed the animals were photographed randomly and the scenes were forced into a rather forced plot. For example, there is much drama about a big battle between the two chimp bands, but all we see is animals running through the forest for reasons unknown; there is no actual contact.

Definitely not up to Disney standards.
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The Orphan Raised by an Alpha
Chris_Pandolfi20 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The Disneynature documentaries had me initially. Their first two releases, "Earth" and "Oceans," were marvelous films; I was especially taken with the latter, not only because it was a spectacular showcase of underwater footage but also because it raised awareness about the negative and positive effects we have on the environment. But then came last year's "African Cats," and while the visuals were undoubtedly stunning, I believed the filmmakers went too far in their efforts to make it a dramatic narrative, which sort of goes against what documentaries set out to do. Now we have "Chimpanzee." Although it suffers from some of the same problems as "African Cats," namely the use of inherently manipulative narrative techniques, the film is a definite improvement. If they keep it up, Disneynature might have me again completely by next year.

Filmed over three years in the rainforests of the Ivory Coast and Uganda, "Chimpanzee" documents the life of a young chimp named Oscar. I have no way of knowing if his name – and, indeed, all the names applied to the chimps appearing in this film – was bestowed by Disney, the filmmakers, or someone working for the Jane Goodall Institute, the latter being one of the production entities. I suppose it doesn't really matter, seeing as names do make it much easier to identify specific subjects. Oscar is raised by his mother, Isha, in a tribe of chimps ruled over by the alpha male, Freddy. Survival depends in part on knowing where to gather food, and it's the time of year when nuts are ready for harvesting. Unfortunately, this nut tree is located away from the safety of their territory, where they will be vulnerable to a rival tribe of chimps led by the aged Scar (a name that surely must have been influenced by Disney).

One of Scar's attacks results in Isha getting separated from Oscar. Although we see nothing, narrator Tim Allen plainly states that Isha sustained heavy injuries and ultimately died. Oscar, being too young to fend for himself, becomes desperately malnourished. He's rejected by the other mothers of the tribe, as they have their own children to look after. Astonishingly, he's eventually taken in by Freddy, who up until then showed not the slightest interest in any of the young chimps, let alone Oscar. He feeds him, grooms him, and lets him ride on his back, just as mom used to do. But Freddy's newfound paternal instincts threaten the safety of the tribe; he isn't as watchful and attentive as he once was. Will he be able to protect his chimps from Scar and his tribe?

The film is at its best when it shows the chimps engaging in their daily rituals, including grooming, foraging for food, and using rocks, logs, and twigs as primitive tools. The latter allows for a few scenes of levity. It takes the right tools and years of practice to be able to crack a nut open, and it's obvious that some chimps aren't as quick to learn as others. One chimp has the darnedest time trying to open a nut with a log. It's the wrong tool for the job; the fragile wood repeatedly breaks into pieces. Even when he finally figures out that only a rock can crack a nut, he learns the hard way that the other chimps aren't familiar with the concept of sharing. If you leave a tool unattended, someone will come along and take it. And then there are the chimps that choose the wrong rocks, which are quite susceptible to chipping and end up doing nothing to the nut.

Allen's narration is easily the most unique of the Disneynature documentaries. This isn't to say it's the most successful. Although he has a pleasant and distinct style of delivery, and although he generally gets by, there's a casual quality to his voice that somehow doesn't quite do the material justice. There's a presence, but there isn't much authority. There are times when he piles on the comedy a little too thickly, as when he verbalizes a chimp's "thoughts" on the basis of its actions. It's amusing at best, although it doesn't take long before it comes off as disingenuous to the genre and condescending to the filmmakers, who clearly put a lot of time and effort into capturing the footage.

Indeed, there's a compelling (if brief) montage of behind-the-scenes footage shown during the end credits, in which we clearly see the filmmakers struggling with thick foliage, uneven terrain, and insect invasions. Even then, it's shown in the best possible light; everyone who appears on camera is usually laughing. It's obvious that "Chimpanzee" was nothing if not a labor of love. The screening I attended was introduced by executive producer Don Hahn, who told the audience that some of the film was shot while Uganda was in the middle of a civil war. That in and of itself would have made for a very interesting documentary, but I won't go off on a tangent. While not the best of Disneynature's offerings, "Chimpanzee" is informative, entertaining, and visually striking.

-- Chris Pandolfi (
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A familiar story interpreted by some close relatives of us.
davidtraversa-123 September 2012
The most striking feature I noticed while watching this film was the resemblance of these creatures to my neighbors. It's incredible how similar to us they are!

Granted, Doña Carmen and Don José don't go as far as to deflea each other while carrying on a casual conversation on a sidewalk, but the similarities in body gestures and specially when persistently looking at the camera lens (it happened several times, whether intentionally or not) and we could see overwhelmingly human eyes looking at us, can be quite disturbing.

Impeccable photography with so many close ups that one wonders constantly at how they had managed to take those shots without disturbing the animals. I'm sure Disney has the most sophisticated equipment in the World in order to present such splendipherous depth of lenses and superb sharpness all the time, even from long distances, but even so, chimpanzees have a very sensitive sense of smell and I'm sure they could detect human presence from afar, but apparently it left them unconcerned and they proceeded naturally with their daily chores.

The forest, breathtaking, specially from the air, and the lushness of all that green carpet we see below seems to go forever on behind those far away mountains; when the camera goes down to ground level it's disconcerting to notice how very little sunlight reaches these animals.

Since it was a Disney film, obviously thought out for children, the notorious lack of restrain among monkeys and chimps when it comes to bodily functions, including everything related to sex, which is so habitual to see in zoos in broad daylight, here there is no trace whatsoever of it, like in those old Doris Day films, where everything was squeaky clean.

A good film for Eco-friendly fans.

P.S.: I gave it a 9 because of the titanic efforts of the whole crew and the tenacity they put into the project, working under such harsh and probably dangerous conditions.
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The pinnicle of 50 years of Disney nature...
steveo12218 January 2018
The best, most entertaining and engaging Disney animal documentary I've seen. As a story, as an anthropomorphic fantasy, the Disney people did a remarkable job of editing to make it feel like a scripted piece played out by great actors. In fact, the rival chimps in the movie, the 'bad guys', look like a gang of thugs right out of central casting. It is a very funny movie with the humor supplied by the chimps themselves and the narration by Tim Allen. There is nothing egregiously saccharine until the closing song over the credits, when clips of the movie crew are shown. It is an extremely heartwarming movie with a big chunk of heartbreak in the middle. (Bambi's Mom is always going to die.) It also has satisfying comedy and drama of a level that beats most of what I have seen lately.
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amethystwings3217 May 2012
Like Jane, Goodale I to love chimpanzees. Documentaries like this help to save the lives of so many animals. People need to see just what we have done to the earth.So many animals have been killed off that we can only see them in films like this. It sad but true we as people have lost sight of everything that is really important in life, that matters most. And that is saving life not taking it, for our own gain. That is my mom's opinion on in this documentary . And the sad thing is everything she said is true. We often take things for granted, in life we never truly appreciate it . Until it is gone , much like our planet we are now just starting to realize. How important it is to preserve . Our environment and it is wildlife , but look how much damage we have caused in the process! All in the name of progress , that is why these films are important . To send a message that that life here is precious and we need protect it before . It is too late and all as we know it will be extinct!
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Flawed but Enjoyable Documentary
FFman-847-46012620 April 2012
From the people that brought you the fantastic documentary—Earth—comes a documentary cut from an entirely different cloth. Unlike Earth, Chimpanzee is able to weave a storyline by following a specific clan of chimps, giving each one a name, and following a youngster as he learns the rough life of the forest. The personal touch is brilliant and allows for a heartfelt documentary. In the end, the only problems are in the way the movie is edited and narrated.

One of the best things about Chimpanzee is the way in which it elicits empathy from the viewer. The movie focuses on features of chimpanzees that remind of us ourselves—using tools to get food, breastfeeding, and youth playing games while adults try to sleep. By the time the documentary develops a plot, you will honestly care about the characters involved. You will laugh time and time again.

You will not cry. Despite the disturbing and depressing nature of the film, everything is glazed over. This points us directly at the core problem of Chimpanzee—the narration. First off, Tim Allen wasn't the right choice. He doesn't do the inflections correctly and often speaks far too excitedly. The other major problem with the narration is the script. When Tim Allen started speaking for the Chimps, I was amused. When it continued, it became rather annoying. The narration should have been used to support the documentary—not overshadow it.

Chimpanzee was marketed as a children's film. We received the children's preshow and nothing but adolescent trailers. That is what stopped the documentary from being great. By skipping over the scenes that are too hard to watch and not diving into the real reason an Alpha Male would take in a young chimp, the documentary shortchanges itself. Earth was great because it wasn't directed at an adolescent audience. That freed the team up to build the best movie. The same was not the case for Chimpanzee.

If you enjoy documentaries, you will enjoy Chimpanzee. Although the movie does not deliver critical thoughts, it is filled with incredible visuals and an intriguing storyline. If you are not a fan of documentaries, there is no reason to see Chimpanzee. I hope this movie does not show a trend for wide release documentaries. Documentaries are beautiful when they are not dumbed down for our children.
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nice but a bit too long
jlj9675-126 April 2012
Although I basically enjoyed this film for the most part, I had had enough after the first hour. I continued to the end but got fidgety and I fear most children will too. It is interesting and the cinematography is tremendous, just a little too slow. I was amazed to learn that chimps form packs and war with other packs; they are like us in the bad ways too, evidently. It would have been nice if there was an on screen notation that Tim Allen was the narrator as I did not know this ahead of time and kept trying to figure out who it was; his name did not appear till the very end of the credits - what's up with that? I cannot honestly recommend this film for any but die-hard animal lovers and not children under the age of 10 as it will just not hold their interest.
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Sort of Confusing, but Endearing
mekane20 April 2012
I walked into this movie not knowing what to expect. I am more of a "serious" moviegoer, and I generally don't see films geared towards children. I would describe this movie as half brilliant documentary and half cheesy kids movie.

I had issues with the color timing in parts, which made the film look almost animated and artificial. I wasn't quite sure what to believe was natural footage and what was some sort of staged animal wrangling or CGI. As the movie progressed it became pretty clear that it was all authentic, but Tim Allen's narration combined with the almost-too-convenient dramatic story arc still kept me at arm's length.

Ultimately this movie delivers a touching story of a young primate and his tribe. Though somewhat contrived at times there are many, many moments of genuine intimacy that tug the heartstrings and also make you wonder how in the world they got these shots. Thankfully there's a bit of explanation at the end.

Do I regret seeing it? Not at all. Do I wish it had been made as a more traditional documentary? Yes.
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The plot summary is misleading
stuff_100422 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
In general, I loved the movie. The only major mistake made was in the plot summary on the main page of this listing.

According to the summary, the chimp is abandoned by the tribe. That is wrong.

The chimp's mother dies & the chimp doesn't know about it.

That's why I only give the film a 5. A misleading piece of information could give a potential viewer a false assumption.

Tim Allen does an excellent job of narration. For people who may treat the movie like BAMBI or THE LION KING, Allen's narration provides just the right lightness in tone to offset the darker aspects of the story.
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visually stunning
movieman19472 May 2012
What can really be said about this movie.... Its a fantastic documentary, and unlike other wildlife documentary's its not overly sad or graphic, so parents can bring their kids.

The shots and views of the chimps and the rain forest, are absolutely amazing. All aspects of the lives of chimpanzees are shown, even the not so glamorous ones. However the filmmakers show the harshness of the lives of chimps while appealing to all ages, and not sacrificing content. For example: in one of the few scenes at can be perceived as violent, an obscured view of the chimps is shown, not enough to mask their actions, but enough to make it tasteful.

Tim Allen does a fantastic job of narrating, being both funny and informative. He even makes a throw back joke or two.

This film is inspiring, fun, and informative. Its fun for the whole family, and I am not just saying that. I left the theater thinking how alike humans and chimpanzees are, and would recommend this movie to any animal lover.
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Very informative, entertaining, and well presented documentary
sanfranken19 May 2012
I'm puzzled by reviews that tell viewers that if they do not enjoy documentaries they should not see this. Is there a chance potential viewers might be confused and think this has chimps performing a scripted movie? I found Chimpanzees a very interesting look into what life is like for chimps, a documentary difficult to make but with continuously great shots so you felt completely part of the events. As for difficult situations to watch in the animal world, without describing what the situations were, I was certainly more than pleased with how they presented such situations in the film as I fully got the gist of the situations without the disgusting aspects. Who needs that??? Really! If you want that, just watch the news about Oakland, CA and the gory detail about the violence there to get your fill of disgusting situations. Living near Oakland, I have enough real violence in my daily life already to dwell on the specifics of what happens out in the jungle. This documentary certainly did not gloss over the situations as it had a major impact on the events throughout the film but presented them very tastefully for viewers of all ages.
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Don't bother unless you've nothing else to do...
Andyssoohigh14 May 2013
The only thing keeping this movie up is the subject matter. No matter what watching this you will enjoy the up close relationship that is developed throughout between the Chimpanzees and the audience.

The downfall of the documentary is in the narration. Unfortunately, Tim Allen was a complete flop. If you love nature docs and love David Attenborough and other natural world docs that feature a narrator that is able to tune in to the documentary and thereby have the audience fully enticed and watching with awe and excitement.

Instead of this, you are left feeling is this a joke? The side narration 'giving the chimps a voice' was at first, intriguing... I wanted to see how Allen would go with it. Sadly... He didn't - Instead he sounded like he didn't want to be reading out the script he had been given. Which leaves the viewer not buying it. I just can't believe no one listened through and thought it didn't sound right! Anybody could have sounded better than that! Allen had no enthusiasm except possibly when he was talking about tools.

BUT the subject matter is the key. If you have children then I'm sure it will be a nice close up look at nature for them. However, because it is aimed at children it has seemingly been dumbed down. This is an unfortunate inevitability when producing documentaries for children.

I would not recommend paying to see this in the cinema. Instead watch some David Attenborough, or wait for 'Chimpanzee' to come on TV.
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Not a serious documentary by any stretch of the imagination
Ocean_star25 November 2012
21 minutes and 33 seconds into the film and I was done.

What seemed to be a very interesting and potentially engaging documentary about the life of a Chimpanzee turned out to be a film that seems to be have been made for children as the main audience. The music is childish and Tim Allen's voice-over becomes excruciating pretty quickly. Nothing interesting really happens - well, at-least not for the first 20 minutes.)

We've seen it all before countless times on National Geographic and Discovery. There's no new content in Chimpanzee that would make me want to watch this for 1 hour and 18 minutes.

Cool, if you're going to watch it with your children but not recommended for serious adult viewing. You may come out rather disappointed and quite frankly, annoyed.
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