Anyone remember Disney’s ‘True-Life Adventures’, those short wildlife films with a cloying voiceover aimed at young kids? ‘Chimpanzee’ is a lot like that – although these days the footage is staggering. The crew has fantastic access to Oscar, a young chimp living in a National Park on the Ivory Coast, following his early life lessons and how he relates to peers. When tragedy strikes, the chimp forms a bond with an unusual source.
So, there’s a strong emotional arc that won’t fail to move you, and a few charming scenes in which we watch our fellow primates desperately trying to learn how to use makeshift tools (not to mention steal them off others). Unfortunately, we also have a narration from Tim Allen that will set many a tooth on edge: it’s trite and heavily anthropomorphised. And while Oscar’s story is heart-warming, it feels like a better fit for a short film, even if the footage deserves the big-screen treatment.