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Movie Reviews: “Chimpanzee,” “Think Like A Man,” “The Lucky One”
BY ROB HEDELT
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
3 of 4 stars
NARRATED BY TIM ALLEN
Disney deserves a rainforest full of credit for occasionally producing the sort of amazing documentaries the studio earned a reputation for decades ago.
This one follows the life of Oscar, a baby chimpanzee learning about life in the jungles of the Ivory Coast.
The documentary team braved difficult conditions and terrain to capture beautiful images that describe the ebb and flow of life among Oscar’s group of chimps.
From using rocks to open nuts to building sleeping platforms to avoid leopards at night, the images give viewers a ringside seat to the daily life of a clever animal.
It helps that little Oscar is about as cute as they come, and that his mother cares for him like any human mother might care for a child.
At times, the chimps both look and act human. Those uncanny moments make the film all the more effective and powerful.
But the most compelling moment is the tragic death of Oscar’s mother in an attack from a rival group of chimpanzees. For a while, the loss leaves the little chimp on his own and slowly starving without his beloved caregiver.
He’s eventually taken in by the strong and aging patriarch of the group, who takes Oscar under his wing to protect and care for him.
Tim Allen’s narration lets viewers know this is a rare thing among chimpanzees, something the filmmakers must have thanked their lucky stars to have captured.
The film, enlivened by Allen’s bouncy dialogue, is an amazing peek inside a part of the world few have ever witnessed, much less in this sort of detail.
Parents who want youngsters to witness and enjoy this beautifully shot film should know that it’s not all happiness and light.
Though the shots are carefully picked to avoid bloody and violent exchanges, there are scenes where the chimpanzees hunt and kill monkeys, then pull apart the bones to eat. And there are the scenes where the rival chimpanzees attack Oscar’s group, separating him from his mother and eventually killing her.
The very young might be scared by that, but those difficult scenes are done in a way that most toddlers can probably handle.
Aside from that limited warning, this is a rare film that shouldn’t be missed.
Rated G. 78 min. [PV]
“THINK LIKE A MAN” (PG–13)
2 of 4 stars
MICHAEL EALY, REGINA HALL, KEVIN HART, GABRIELLE UNION
This pretty much unfolds the way most viewers know it will—with women gaining an edge on their significant others, thanks to a book about how men think.
But this movie is better than many might suppose, thanks especially to Kevin Hart’s periodic hilarity and a veteran cast that’s done enough of these dating comedies to be very good at them.
At times, the film almost feels like an extended commercial for the real-life book by author–comedian Steve Harvey, but it all unfolds at a perfect pace. It succeeds by matching up different couples with the problems Harvey’s book addresses, from the mama’s boy to the fretful single mom.
In a film like this, where things are heading isn’t nearly as important as how much fun the cast has getting there. For all the expected hurdles faced in the race to harmonious love, this cast has enough fun to make it enjoyable for the audience as well.
As the one guy in the group of buddies going through a divorce, Hart is a total stitch, drawing out belly laughs as he keeps underscoring the pitfalls of bad romance while secretly pining to get his sweetie back.
This isn’t rocket science, but it has enough interesting characters and a snappy enough pace to make it an enjoyable movie.
Rated PG–13 for sexual content, some crude humor, and brief drug use. 120 min. [MC, PV, RA]
“THE LUCKY ONE” (PG–13)
2 of 4 stars
ZAC EFRON, TAYLOR SCHILLING, BLYTHE DANNER
It’s official: Channing Tatum is no longer the worst male actor to have made a Nicholas Sparks film.
Zac Efron, the former teen heartthrob, has wrestled that title away from him with a performance so leaden that it’s not even a contest.
His one-note, downcast look sort of works for the role of a Marine who’s still wracked by grief from losing friends in Iraq.
Luckily, there are some decent actors here, from the talented and striking Taylor Schilling as Efron’s love interest to Blythe Danner as the wise grandmother who pulls for the pair.
Athough the patented Sparks’ formula is maintained, as ever, in this film, I dare say it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be.
Two troubled souls help save each other in a waterfront setting, beset by problems along the way and yearning for true love and happiness. What else would it be?
Rated PG–13 for some sexuality and violence. 101 min. [MC, RA, RF]