If it's Earth Day, then it must be time for another Disneynature movie.


The first Disneynature film was "Earth" and was produced with Alastair Fothergill with BBC and Discovery Channel. It's U.S. release, handled by Disney coincided with Earth Day and proved to be fairly profitable for Disney earning over $8 million it's first weekend and finishing with a global take of $108 million. Not a bad day at the conservatory office.


The second "Oceans" didn't do quite as well earning $6 million its opening weekend and finishing with a $82 million global take. The third film "African Cats" took in only $21 million total worldwide. It marked the return of Alastair Fothergill as director with Samuel L Jackson narrating. Unfortunately, this was Disneyesque cats that did not appeal to the masses. The masses wanting to see the cat ripping into a gazelle at the very least.

Alastair Fothergill returns once again, this time with the blessing of the Jane Goodall Institute, to present Disneynature "Chimpanzee". At the very least, the timing would be questionable. Again, it's release is timed with Earth Day, but it probably would have been more successful had the release been closer to 2011s release of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and "Project Nim" (also about chimps). So here it is, in all it's beautifully shot touchy-feely Disney best - out here by itself to...


It follows the life of a baby chimp that has been named Oscar. He has a loving mother and the support of the close knit chimpanzee troop. The troop is led by an alpha male named Fred whose main task is leading the troop from place to place to find food.


Now Fred's troop lives in a well stocked area that is the envy of a neighboring troop led by Scar (I know this is ridiculous with the names). Scar's troop doesn't have a great bounty of food and, since they are much bigger, they run through their food fairly quickly. So, guess who's area they are looking to take?


There are, throughout the film skirmishes between the opposing troops. In one, Oscar's mother gets injured and eventually becomes food for a passing leopard. This leaves Oscar as an orphan who is now shunned by the rest of the troop except one who lets Oscar sort of tag along.

The story thus, from that point focuses on the relationship between Oscar and this totally unexpected adoptive parent. But will Oscar's presence become a distraction with Scar's troop lurking?


Oh heck, you'll probably be asleep by this time anyway, even thou the film comes in at a rather brisk 78 minutes. The reason is that it is too Disneyesque. Even the chimpanzee hunting scene is peachy keen lacking even a drop of blood. Yes, chimps like humans will eat meat if they can catch it.


Which brings me to the next point. Chimps know they are physically stronger than humans; so why not eat these silly humans that are hanging around with cameras? Who knows? It was never explained why the chimps allowed the humans to get so close not only to the troop but to the baby chimps. That would have made the film a bit more interesting.


We also know that children are much more in tune with nature and animals that they were in the past and understand fully that animals live and die; eat and can be eaten. How Oscars mother get carried away by the leopard was glossed over as was the battle scene between the warring troops.


From a cinematography point of view, "Chimpanzee is beautifully shot in the tradition of the Disneynature series. I'm not sure that Tim Allen would have been my first choice to narrate, but he does an adequate job.


"Chimpanzee" is a short, totally "G" rated nature film that is far too sterile. Despite the great camerawork, it only engages the youngest of children leaving the rest longing for National Geographic.   -- GEOFF BURTON