MONKEY KINGDOM – A DVD Review by John Strange

Disneynature's Monkey Kingdom Maya and Kip Ph: Film Frame ©Disneynature 2015
Maya and Kip
Ph: Film Frame
©Disneynature 2015
John Strange
Narrated by Tina Fey, this film from Disneynature takes us into the lives of a troop of toque macaque (monkeys) in the tropical forests of Sri Lanka.  The story centers on one female, Maya.  We learn about the troop and its social order.  Forty-nine moneys follow the alpha macaque, “Raja”.
Maya is of the lowest class in the troop.  While the alpha male and his three “queens” aka ‘the sisterhood” live in the tops of the trees and at the highest level of the granite outcropping called the “castle.”  The class determines not only where you sleep but what you eat.  The higher your class the better you eat and sleep.  Raja and the three sisters have the best of everything.  Everyone else gets a share depending upon their status.
Maya eats what she can and often sleeps in uncomfortable situations.  While the upper classes shelter from the yearly monsoon rains, Maya and the others in the lowest class must endure being wet and cold.
One day during the mating season, a male macaque named Kumar attracts Maya’s eye.  Raja, who normally does not even notice she is alive, moves in to prevent Kumar and Maya from getting together.  His efforts are for naught because the pair eventually are able to sneak away and consummate their relationship.
Kumar is driven from the troop.  A short while later, Maya births her son, Kip.  Kip becomes her world as she struggles to eat enough to provide the infant with sufficient milk.  Unlike the sisters, she does not have help to watch over her young one while she looks for food so she must take him with her everywhere she goes.
Tina Fey’s narration takes us through the seasons as we see the monsoons and following the rainy season’s passage, the moist ground signals thousands of winged termites to fly away from their mounds to found new colonies.  These termites are a delicacy for the macaques.  Though it only lasts a few hours each year, the troop devours as many of the insects as they can catch.
Sadly, this is but one day of the year.  Maya has to find food the other 365 days.  Her quest for food takes her many places where it is not really safe to go.  We see her (and the others of her class who follow her) diving and swimming to find water lily seed pads to eat.  We see her lead the troops into a small village and raid homes.
These actions are not without extreme dangers.  The forest is home to monitor lizards which grow to several feet in length and will sneak up on unwary prey such as hungry macaques and eat them.
There are other dangers as well.  Other macaque troops can attack to steal the wonderful place the troop calls home.  When a troop led by a macaque called Lex drives the troop from their home, they head out to find a safe place to live.
They wind up in a city where the higher classes are clueless on what to do.  This is when the lower classes such as Maya and Kumar (who has ingratiated his way back into the troop just in time to be with them on their exile) shine.  Their forays into the human villages have taught them where to find food and how to steal it.
To sleep the troop climbs a metal tower used for power and signal transmissions to find a safe place to rest for the night.  Their rest is disturbed when the area gets stranger after dark as the humans places are lit up with lights and music blasts into the darkenss.
The troop stays long enough to heal their battle wounds before leaving to reclaim their home in the forest.  Raja and the sisters, humbled by the city, allow Kumar to lead the way with Maya and Kip right behind him.
I love the fact that Kumar leads the troop home and leads the fight to reclaim it with Maya right there in the thick of the fighting.  When the fight is over, the troop has regained their home with a new alpha to lead them, Kumar!  Maya is his mate and all is well with the world.  A member of the lowest class is now eating at the top of the tree.
The filmmakers have once again made a film that teaches us about our world while entertaining us.  I have loved every one of the films in this series that I have had a chance to see.  I plan to add ALL of them to my home library.  I know you will love them as much as I do.
Like every film that Disneynature has released, some of the proceeds from tickets sales from opening week in the theaters and sales of the blu-ray combo packs or digital HD will go to give back to nature in partnership with Conservation International.  They will donate money in your honor to protect habitat across Indonesia, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka benefiting hundreds of species and helping to protect fresh drinking water for local populations.
Directed By: Mark Linfield, Alastair Fothergill
Cast: Tina Fey (narrator)
  • Tales From The Kingdom
  • On The Set Of Monkey Kingdom with Jane Goodall and Wolfgang Dittus
  • Disneynature Monkey Kingdom: The Conservation Story
  • “It’s Our World” Music Video Performed By Jacquie Lee
  • A Special Thank You From Disneynature
Runtime: 113 Minutes
Studio: Disneynature
Release Date: 09/15/2015
Region 1
MPAA Rating: G
Selig Rating: BRAND NEW
Selig Rating Scale:
BRAND NEW: Should add to your DVD collection at any cost
SALE ITEM: Worth owning, but try to catch it a sale
SECOND HAND: Plan to get it, but wait to buy it used
RENTAL: Worth taking a look at, but not owning
COASTER: Pick it up at a garage sale and use it for drinks
PULL!: Makes a great Trap Shooting target
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