Disney's 2012 movie offering for Earth Day is a gorgeous and technically dazzling look inside the world of chimpanzees -- their use of tools, their nurturing instincts, their means of organization during fights and hunts for smaller monkeys, whom they sometimes eat.
But Chimpanzee is also a throwback, a documentary that follows a baby chimp named Oscar as he struggles to learn the ways of his tribe and to survive in the dense rain forests of Africa's Ivory Coast. It's moving and entertaining as well as informative.
Tim Allen narrates and the chimps themselves provide moments of low comedy and high pathos.
In a vast, fog-enshrouded jungle, we meet baby Oscar, his mother, Isha, and the chimp in charge of this tribe -- Freddy, an alpha male tasked with keeping order and keeping other chimp packs from invading their turf, eating their figs, and taking over the grove of nut trees that keeps Oscar's extended family fed, even in the jungle's lean months. They've learned to use rocks and sticks to open the nuts. But despite this advantage, the vast "army" of chimps led by one-eyed "Scar" (of course) threatens to chase them to the hinterlands.
Directed by Alastair Forthergill and Mark Linfield. A Disneynature release, playing at Rave Franklin Park, Fallen Timbers, and Levis Commons. Rated G. Running time: 84 minutes.
Critic's rating: * * * 1/2
Narrated by Tim Allen.