Monday, April 16, 2012

Review of CHIMPANZEE (2012)

- Rated G.
- Narrated by Tim Allen
- Directed by Alastair Fothergill & Mark Linfield
- Running Time - 1hr 18min

Disney's 4th consecutive nature Documentary. They started back in 2009 with EARTH, and continued with OCEANS and AFRICAN CATS. I enjoyed both EARTH and OCEANS, but thought that AFRICAN CATS fell flat. That could also be due to seeing the far superior THE LAST LIONS (which was also a Doc about Lions) first.

Unlike the other Disney nature films (those had random images of animals in their natural habitat, without trying to tell a story), the filmmakers actually tell the tale of a baby chimp they call Oscar. His mother raises him, then when she disappears the elder ape takes care of Oscar. Also, there is a bad group of apes who are led by the "cleverly" (sarcasm) named Scar, who threaten to take over the "good" chimps habitat.

There is some good photography, as there usually is in these movies. There were occasional cute moments, like when Oscar is trying to break open a nut with various sizes of branches, but I ultimately didn't care for this. And the main reason is the narration. For some reason, Disney thought it would be a brilliant idea to have overrated and "shoot me in my face" irritating actor/comedian Tim Allen to talk over the ape action. What a horrible idea!

Unlike narrators of the past films (James Earl Jones, Pierce Brosnan), Allen makes wise cracks and silly voices while doing the commentary, making it (maybe) a step above America's Funniest Home Videos. Occasionally he would try to tell a story, but then he would just go into old Home Improvement bits. Yes, there's even a moment when he says "Power tools!" , and then proceeds to do his man bark, or whatever the hell he does that the majority of lower middle class Americans thought was so funny in the 90's. Inappropriate when doing an intimate nature documentary. His narration constantly gets in the way of even remotely enjoying the story.

And just when you were about to say, "Well, the silly narration is there to make it more entertaining for the kids", about 15 minutes into the movie, my 8 year old daughter whispers to me, "I hate the narration. He's trying to be too funny. I just want to see the animals". Yeah, that's right! Suck it, Hollywood! You don't need to play down to kids. They want to see good movies just like us adults. She was getting so upset at Tim Allen, that at one point she yelled, "Shut Up!" to the screen. I had to calm her down.

Now, I guess if you're a die hard Tim Allen fan, you'll probably appreciate his narration, though I'm 100% positive that this would have been a moving and touching Documentary if it was taken much more seriously.

*1/2 (out of ****)

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