By Gary “I’m an Ape Man” Murray
Starring a bunch of monkeys and Tina Fey
Written and directed by Mark Linfield and Alastar Fothergill
Running time 81 min
MPAA Rating G
Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE
Monkey Kingdom is a film from Disney Nature, the Earth Day company that gives audiences its yearly dose of planet and nature filled adventure. Over the years, there have been stories about lions and tigers and bears, all done with that Mouse Magic. The box office is partly used to save natural areas and pay for reforestation. It helps everyone.
This film focuses on the Temple Troop, a group of small simians called togue macagues who live in a abandoned temple in South Asia in Polonnanaruwa, Sri Lanka. We find that there is a hierarchy to life in the trees with the higher-ups getting all the best berries. Those at the bottom of the tree get the scraps.
Maya is one of these togue macagues who is at the bottom of the tree. She, along with her young son Kip live a hard existence of little food and few prospects for advancement. When they lose their home, Maya decides to take matters into her own hands and try to find a new home for her and the other bottom dwellers. Maya uses different clever elements to find new resources for her new tribe. It is a struggle against elements that drives Monkey Kingdom to a bright conclusion.
The film is narrated by Tina Fey. She gives a warm reading to the writing and adds her flippant attitude to the film. It gives a bright feel to the beat of the finished work.
Monkey Kingdom is written and directed by Mark Linfield and Alastar Fothergill. These two have captured some of the most amazing scenes. There are shots of monkeys flying from branch to branch, feats of daring do that even the best acrobat would never attempt. But at the same time, they capture more tender moments. When Maya holds on to her son and grooms him, it becomes a personification for us. Their lens captures the magic of their faces with expressions that seem human.
There are some problems with the film. Not once did these monkeys talk or torture Charlton Heston. We never saw the Statue of Liberty buried halfway in the sand. Not once did these monkeys climb the Empire State Building but they did climb a cell phone tower. And where the heck was Fay Wray? For that matter, was that Peter Jackson in the background?
All that aside, Monkey Kingdom is a wonderful film to celebrate Earth Day. For those old enough to remember those Wonderful World of Disney nature films, this will be a definite reminder of a more nostalgic time. For those who have enjoyed the last half-decade of Disney Nature films, this will be a welcome addition. If you don’t go see this movie, you’re bananas.