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He's no Zac Efron--little Oscar the chimpanzee is a natural in front of the camera.
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NARRATED BY TIM ALLEN
Disney deserves a rainforest full of credit for occasionally producing the sort of amazing documentaries the studio earned a reputation for decades ago.
This one follows the life of Oscar, a baby chimpanzee learning about life in the jungles of the Ivory Coast.
The documentary team braved difficult conditions and terrain to capture beautiful images that describe the ebb and flow of life among Oscar's group of chimps.
From using rocks to open nuts to building sleeping platforms to avoid leopards at night, the images give viewers a ringside seat to the daily life of a clever animal.
It helps that little Oscar is about as cute as they come, and that his mother cares for him like any human mother might care for a child.
At times, the chimps both look and act human. Those uncanny moments make the film all the more effective and powerful.
But the most compelling moment is the tragic death of Oscar's mother in an attack from a rival group of chimpanzees. For a while, the loss leaves the little chimp on his own and slowly starving without his beloved caregiver.
He's eventually taken in by the strong and aging patriarch of the group, who takes Oscar under his wing to protect and care for him.
Tim Allen's narration lets viewers know this is a rare thing among chimpanzees, something the filmmakers must have thanked their lucky stars to have captured.
The film, enlivened by Allen's bouncy dialogue, is an amazing peek inside a part of the world few have ever witnessed, much less in this sort of detail.
Parents who want youngsters to witness and enjoy this beautifully shot film should know that it's not all happiness and light.
Though the shots are carefully picked to avoid bloody and violent exchanges, there are scenes where the chimpanzees hunt and kill monkeys, then pull apart the bones to eat. And there are the scenes where the rival chimpanzees attack Oscar's group, separating him from his mother and eventually killing her.
The very young might be scared by that, but those difficult scenes are done in a way that most toddlers can probably handle.
HOW WE RATE 'EM
H Don't waste your time.
HH Nothing special
HHHH A must-see