Disneynature’s “Chimpanzee” Combines Artistic Photography with Compelling Story for Fantastic Film

Disneynature’s “Chimpanzee” contains artistic filmmaking, breathtaking cinematography, and a riveting story.  Our family loves nature documentaries – watching all four Disneynature films; Planet Earth, Blue Planet, and Frozen Planet on Discovery Channel – yet this latest film still surprised us.  If you’re a fan of nature documentaries, you owe it to yourself to see “Chimpanzee.”  If you’re a fan of good filmmaking, you would enjoy “Chimpanzee.”   Continue reading for the complete review.

Oscar, the star of Disneynature's "Chimpanzee" © Disney Enterprises, Inc.


“Chimpanzee” was filmed in the African rainforest, and followed a young male chimp named Oscar from birth through a major early life challenge.  Co-director Alastair Fothergill said, “there’s something playful and a bit naughty about him [Oscar] and he’s clearly quite determined.”

After reading the film’s description, we prepared ourselves for plenty of anthropomorphism and personification.  However, this was pleasantly kept to a minimum, and certainly much less than other nature documentaries.  Instead, the film followed the natural drama that occurred when a rival group of chimpanzees separated Oscar from his mother forever.  In an astounding turn of events, Freddy, the alpha male of Oscar’s group “adopted” and cared for the young chimp.

Oscar and his mother Isha © Disney Enterprises, Inc.


Dr. Jane Goodall, one of the world’s foremost conservationists and an authority on chimpanzee behavior, added, “the adoption of an infant by an adult alpha male has never been filmed like this.  We had one adopted by a 12-year-old [at the Gombe Stream Research Center in Tanzania], but that’s nothing like a top ranking male, so the fact that it happened just when the film was being made [is] amazing.

“It’s incredible because when you’re an alpha male or number one male, you have a certain role to play,” continued Dr. Goodall.  “You have to make sure that you keep the cohesion of the other males in your group, which is very important because of territorial aggression.  Looking after an infant, carrying an infant on your back, spending time grooming an infant, is going to detract you from the normal role of the alpha male, so it’s an altruistic behavior but an interesting one, because that very altruism could have led to the demise of the whole group, or at least to them losing their territory.”

Dr. Goodall was also impressed with the footage captured in the African forest.  “I thought the film was wonderful, especially knowing something about the conditions under which it was made.  I’m filled with admiration for the people who made it.  It’s got drama, it’s got a story, it’s got sadness and it’s got a lot of humor.”

Oscar attempts to crack nuts open with a wooden log. © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


The movie has plenty of humor, and Tim Allen brought the right amount of levity to the story with his narration.  The audience laughed out loud at Oscar attempting to crack a nut with a log.  However, “Chimpanzee” is not just aimed at kids.  The on-screen presentation is impressive.  Time-lapse photography of rain drops on puff balls and slowly invading slime mold, sublime shots of glow-in-the-dark mushrooms, and a startling lightning storm with strikes arcing to the ground and etching the clouds made the film fantastic to watch.  This movie is family entertainment that is money well spent.

© Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Speaking of money well spent, for every moviegoer who sees “Chimpanzee” during the film’s opening week (April 20-26, 2012), Disneynature makes a donation to the Jane Goodall Institute to protect chimpanzees today and tomorrow as part of its “See Chimpanzee/Save Chimpanzees” campaign.  However, even if you don’t make it to the theater during the movie’s opening week, there’s nothing stopping you from donating directly to the Jane Goodall Institute.  It’s a great cause.

For more information on Disneynature’s “Chimpanzee,” click here for all the trailers, high res images, and news.  So what do you think?  Have you seen or are you planning on seeing “Chimpanzee?”  Share your thoughts below, I’d love to read your impression of the film.  To stay up to date on more adventure movie news, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

Disclosure: AdventuresbyDaddy.com receives no consideration or compensation from either Disneynature or the Jane Goodall Institute for this review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.