May 6, 2012
visually stunning, limited by kid-fied Disney narration
an amazing insight into how chimpanzee society works and how very human-like their behavior is. This movie centers on a case where in which two chimps respond in totally unexpected ways to a life-and-death change in their troop, and shows how surprisingly flexible chimpanzee behavior is. It also shows us close-up how much knowledge chimp troops contain and how they pass it on to the next generation (and yes, I actually am an anthropologist). We also see tragically human-like aggression, violence, and endless territoriality (see nightly news for same in humans). There is a well-acted narration by Tim Allen that suffers from a Disney-fied script that works too hard to be cute, but does an good job of discussing the chimp world in human terms. SPOILER ALERT: near the end, when Oscar is disturbed as Freddy withdraws to attend to 'politics' within the troop, its hard not to see Freddy as a single parent, struggling to juggle family & work, with the child paying the cost. Familiar?
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