Oscar is the young lead of Chimpanzee. He is a precocious and adventurous child. His mother is ever-doting as she teaches the young Oscar how to use rocks to crack nuts for food. Though the story centers on Oscar, the survival of his tribe is also an important part of the story. There is a rival chimpanzee tribe that encroaches on their territory throughout the film. Freddie is the alpha-male and protector of Oscar’s tribe. He is a peripheral character until Oscar is orphaned during the fight with their rival chimp tribe. In a twist that could almost be scripted, the young Oscar is taken under the wing of Freddie.
Disneynature’s Chimpanzee is a great family movie that leaves the audience wanting more. It is the story of Oscar, a young chimpanzee that lives in the African rainforest with his mother and their tribe. This film differs from other nature films that focus more on the imagery than character-building. The film works well in building the main characters while incorporating beautifully-shot, high definition images.
The spectacular imagery and time-lapse photography complements the plot. This is a testament to the power of the story-telling that beautiful footage can almost take a backseat to the story. Tim Allen is the perfect narrator for this film. His narration allows the audience to forget that the characters are actually chimpanzees. It offers a balance of humor but is touching throughout the film.
The story and the themes are very human. Though it is a shorter film, it comes in at 78 minutes; there are strong themes of love and loss. It proves to tell a fulfilling story while leaving the audience with hope of Oscar’s survival in the wild. Overall, this is a great family film to share with kids that are a little bit older (there are a few intense moments that may frighten the little ones). It brings attention to the endangered chimpanzees and also shows how closely their traits can resemble humans. As a fan of nature documentaries, this one is a good mix of the spectacular visuals of the likes of Planet Earth with the heart-warming stories associated with Disney.
The Blu-ray/ DVD combo pack offers supplementary features of the making of the film. The features show the crew’s hardships of filming in the African rainforest (including but not limited to snakes, torrential rain, mud and LOTS of bees). The short documentaries also show how Oscar’s unconventional adoption proved to stump even the wildlife experts that were present during the filming.