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Movie review: 'Chimpanzee': Fascinating footage, dumb narration

Published April 20, 2012 4:38 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

You can always count on the BBC directing team of Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, who worked on "Earth," to capture amazing footage of nature — and you can count on Disney (under its DisneyNature banner) to use that footage in the dumbest presentation possible.

In the new documentary "Chimpanzee," we meet Oscar, a three-year-old chimp growing up with his mother, Isha, in the Taï National Park in west Africa's Ivory Coast. The film crew gets astonishing shots of Oscar learning how to crack nuts, how to get ants on a stick, and the other tasks of surviving.

They also follow the plight of this group of chimpanzees as they hunt monkeys and battle a rival gang of chimps who seek the same hunting ground. The arc of Oscar's story turns sharply when, after the rivals attack, Isha goes missing and is presumed dead.

The footage should provide all the excitement and emotion any moviegoer could need. But no, we get a dumbed-down narration (by Tim Allen) that telegraphs what the audience should be feeling at every second and unnecessarily tidies up the messy business of nature to fit into a Disney-friendly narrative.

movies@sltrib.com; nowsaltlake.com/movies —

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'Chimpanzee'

Opens Friday, April 20, at theaters everywhere; rated G; 84 minutes. For more movie reviews, visit nowsaltlake.com/movies.