out of Five
Running time: 78
The chimpanzees play to their stereotype in this charming documentary that’s beautiful to watch and often funny, however Tim Allen’s jovial voiceover can be rather irritating after a while.
What’s it all about?
Directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield and narrated by Tim Allen, Chimpanzee tells the heart-warming story of Oscar, a three month old chimpanzee that finds himself separated from his troop during a run-in with a rival band of chimpanzees. Left to fend for himself in the African jungle, where danger lurks around every corner and competition for food is rife, Oscar must quickly learn from Freddy, a headstrong leader who in a rare act of compassion steps in and adopts the small chimp.
Filmed in the breathtaking landscape of the République de Côte-d’Ivoire, a country roughly half the size of Texas, Chimpanzee is visually extraordinary. Presenting incredible views of the Tai Forest and its microscopic insects and plants, the documentary gets impressively close to its subjects and gives a detailed portrait of both the personalities and habits of chimpanzees. The story is sweet and endearing, with the final act carrying a real emotional punch and the poppy soundtrack is fun and works well with the amusing scenes showing the chimps being a bit cheeky. There’s also some interesting ‘behind-the-scenes’ footage shown with the credits, which is definitely worth staying a little longer for.
Despite delivering a few funny lines with enthusiasm, Tim Allen’s cheerful narration can be a little irritating at times and truthfully, it feels a little ill-suited for this nature documentary. At 78 minutes long and with not a lot going on, it also feels like Chimpanzee could have been shortened by at least twenty minutes, feeding the notion that this documentary would be more suited for the TV than the big screen. Finally, some of the footage in the final scenes looks a little familiar to some of the clips at the beginning, hinting at the idea that Fothergill and Linfield may have over-relied on certain parts of their recordings.
Chimpanzee won’t blow you away, but its incredible close-ups of the chimpanzees and extraordinary cinematography certainly make it an enjoyable watch. Recommended.