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Chimpanzee Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Ape will, in fact, kill ape. Also eat him. Read full review


Grae Drake Profile

The bare necessities. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    Some privileged nature footage from the African rain forest is dishonored by deeply silly narration in Chimpanzee.

    Read Full Review

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    It's unfortunate that the filmmakers juxtapose those striking visuals with a warlike anthropomorphizing element.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly

    No amount of gorgeous jungle footage can make up for the fact that this Disney-produced documentary feels about as natural as an episode of "The Hills," though with (slightly) more feral characters.

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  • See all Chimpanzee reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 6+

Chimp "adoption" documentary has some scary moments.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Chimpanzee is a beautifully filmed, African-set nature documentary about how a chimpanzee community must defend its territory to survive. The central "character" in the story is a baby chimp named Oscar, and some children will be disturbed when a confrontation with a rival chimp clan leaves him orphaned (his mother's death is referenced several times), lonely, and desperate for affection. The violence is edited so quickly that younger viewers aren't likely to pick up on anything bloody happening, but the narrator does say when animals are killed -- including a Colobus monkey the chimpanzees hunt together. Kids interested in animals will learn about the way chimpanzees live and interact, as well as witnessing a unique relationship between a juvenile and alpha male chimp.

  • Families can talk about the popularity of wildlife documentaries. What attracts families to nature films?
  • How is the narration in Chimpanzee different than that of other documentaries? Do you prefer the straightforward approach or Tim Allen's jokier one?
  • "Alpha chimp" Scar and his crew are depicted as antagonists for wanting to start a confrontation with Freddie's clan, but aren't all the animals just acting like animals? Both groups of chimpanzees just want to survive, so is it fair for the documentary to portray one group as the "good" guys and their rivals as menacing enemies?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true4

    Educational value: Kids will learn about how chimpanzee social groups work and how they live communally and band together to hunt, gather, and defend their territory. Children will see how an orphaned chimp is at the mercy of the other females in his clan: If Oscar can't find someone to help feed him and teach him about life in the forest, he'll die. Kids will also learn that it's unusual for an alpha male to make a "maternal" connection with a defenseless member of his group.

  • message true3

    Messages: The message here is about how orphans need love and how an unlikely animal steps up to save an orphan from certain death. The unique relationship teaches us about how, even in the animal kingdom, a child doesn't have to be left behind just because its biological mother is gone. That said, unlike other nature documentaries, there's no call to action or conservation in Chimpanzee (although some proceeds will support the Jane Goodall Institute); it's more of a glimpse at the life of chimpanzees and how they must protect their own territories and natural resources in order to survive.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: It's always tricky to evaluate animal behavior with human sensibilities and values, but from a human perspective, Oscar's mother always acts with the selflessness and attentiveness that humans expect from their own mothers. Freddie acts completely out of character but for the benefit of little Oscar, even though it might have been better for the clan for him to concentrate on tactical issues to protect his territory than to invest in the younger member of his society. By bestowing his protection on Oscar, the alpha chimp paves the way for others to do the same.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence and scariness: Some children will be upset by the scenes of suspense and peril during the various confrontations between the two chimpanzee groups. Scar and his much larger and stronger family attack Freddie, but the violence is edited quickly, so you can't really tell what's going on or which chimpanzees are injured. But the narration explains that Oscar's mother is hurt and can't get off the forest floor. Then, during a frighteningly loud thunderstorm, a leopard is shown, yells are heard, and the narration says that Oscar's mother "will never return." Her death is then referenced several times. The chimps also plan and execute a successful monkey hunt, but audiences don't see the dead animal.

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: Not applicable

  • language false0

    Language: The narrator says "What an idiot" in one line. "Oh my God" is said.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not applicable