My Huffington readers may recall that when I reviewed the recent Return of the Planet of the Apes movie, I recounted my adventures having two squirrel monkeys as pets for 11 years! Actually, they were more than just 'pets,' Demi and Schatzi were integral members of my family and were treated as such. Whenever I came to Los Angeles from New York, usually once a month, I carried them with me on the plane (in a custom Louis Vuitton carrier) and ensconced them in a cage which I kept permanently at the Beverly Hills Hotel. So I do have some affinity for all members of the ape family. Which led me to seek out an advanced screening of the new Disneynature True Life adventure movie, Chimpanzee, which is opening here on April 20 at Hollywood's El Capitan Theatre and playing there until May 3.
Narrated by Tim Allen, who was a voice in Toy Story 3, it is the story of a lovable young chimpanzee, Oscar, who -- deep in the forest in Africa -- is living with his family, mom Isha and the group's savvy leaer, Freddie. The world of the forest is a playground for him and his young chimp companions, who would rather make mayhem than join their parents in an afternoon nap. But when Oscar's family is confronted by a rival band of chimpanzees, he is left to fend for himself... until a surprising ally steps in and changes his life forever. He is saved and 'adopted' by an adult male chimp, who then raises him. Oscar's roguish charm, playful curiosity and zest for discovery showcase the intelligence and ingenuity of these adorable 'personalities' of the animal kingdom. After seeing this film, you may understand why I 'engaged' my two little animal friends for more than decade. Yes, the pleasure was all mine (although my small friends lived longer in captivity than any two monkeys in recorded history.)
If you have children (and even if you don't), the engagement at the El Capitan is going to be a unique one for many reasons. With every showing of Chimpanzee, the Wildlife Learning Center (WLC), will present a special showcase of Animals from Around the World live on the El Capitan stage. Their biologists will teach audience about the way animals raise their young; these guys care for more than 50 species of rescued and zoo-born wild animals, making it their mission to inspire people to explore the wonders of life science through interactive learning.
The legendary Jane Goodall was on ABC's The View to tout this film, which is where I first learned about it, and Disneynature has joined forces with her Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) for a special "See Chimpanzee, Save Chimpanzee" program. For every moviegoer who sees this film during its opening week, Disneynature will make a donation to JGI through their conservation fund in order to protect chimpanzees today and tomorrow. And that's one reason why I am writing this article... but hey, it's a helluva fun, exciting movie which everyone will enjoy. It was directed by Alastair Fothergill (African Cats and Earth) and Mark Linfield (Earth). One caution, don't entertain getting a monkey for a pet. It's a lifetime of work along with the pleasure. (Probably why, despite several marriages, I never had kids.)
Tickets are available at the El Capitan Theatre boxoffice (6838 Hollywood Boulevard), online at www.elcapitantickets.com, or by calling 800-DISNEY6. On Tuesday, April 24, at 10 a.m. only, parents and small children can enjoy the movie in a tot-friendly way, complete with lights dimmed rather than out and reduced sound levels.
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