I took the kids to see Disneynature's Chimpanzee today. It was playing at the cheap theater, so it was a good opportunity.
I like Disney's nature movies so far (the recent ones, I mean). We own Oceans, on DVD, and have watched it repeatedly. I like that they don't cross the evolution vs. creation bridge. They sort of leave that argument alone. They don't support either one. Let the families decide which to believe, I suppose, is what they're going for there.
Please note: There may be minimal spoilers if you continue reading.
In Chimpanzee, we follow the adventures of two rivaling groups of chimpanzees. We especially focus in on the plight of little Oscar, born just as the movie begins. There is a lot of good footage of chimps doing what they do on a daily basis, but Tim Allen, who narrates, adds humorous and charming commentary to these mundane clips that had me laughing out loud at times. Beyond the day-to-day stuff, there is a story of survival to go along.
We attended a 12:45pm showing and 5-year-old N did fall asleep. It was after lunch and short jaunt at the park, so she was probably just tired. But the movie is a nature documentary, even if Disney puts an entertaining flair to it. So take that information for what it is.
The rest of the kids, ranging from 7 to 13 (S stayed home with E because nature movies make her too sad, usually), all said they enjoyed it very much. I enjoyed it as well.
I appreciated several of the themes supported positively in the movie, including: teamwork, courage, foster-parenting and adopting, as well as homeschooling! Yes, once homeschooling of chimpanzees was mentioned and later, they called it "forest-school."
I also really liked the angle they took with the gentle tenderness of the alpha-male, Freddy. It was something one would not consider happening in nature (beyond humans) and yet, there it was. Kindness. Putting his ego aside for the good of another. Incredible.
This movie is rated G and I agree with that rating. While there were a couple frightening moments when the rivaling groups met up, there was a certain Disney quality to it all. It was very mild. There was no graphic violence other than some suggested violence (i.e., they eat a monkey, but there is nothing particular to see beyond chimpanzees gathered around their meal). But it's nature -- circle of life sort of stuff. It's the kind of violence I feel is acceptable because it's not gratuitous. It's real and presented in a way that informs and teaches the kids, but does not aim to scare them.
Overall, I recommend the movie. If you can still catch it in the theater where you are, it's worth it (or at least a cheap theater), but I'm sure it'll rock on DVD as well. Let me know your thoughts if you see it.