Tim Allen has made quite the jump from his long-time role as the goof-ball dad on Home Improvement to narrating the Disneynature documentary titled Chimpanzee. The film tells the story of Oscar, a baby chimpanzee who is suddenly and tragically orphaned one night when his mother falls prey to a leopard.
Alone and afraid, Oscar roams the jungle, looking for his lost mother, but is too young to remember the survival skills that she has taught him. Burdened with their own babies, the other females of the troupe cannot afford to take him in and little Oscar is left without any support. Oscar grows thin and weak, and it seems that he will either starve or become a leopard’s meal, himself.
In a last-ditch effort to survive, he begins to follow, imitate, and attempt to win over the affections of Freddy, the troupe’s alpha male. Now, chimpanzees are certainly capable of displaying altruistic tendencies, but in a chimp’s world, blood is thicker than water and adoption is almost unheard of. In the vast majority of cases, a young orphan would be left to survive on his own… or not.
But Freddy breaks that trend by adopting Oscar. The young chimp gradually wins over the alpha-male’s heart until he lets Oscar ride on his back, an action that is generally only used by a mother chimp to transport her own babies. As Freddy cares for Oscar, the young chimp becomes healthier and happier than we could have imagined and despite being an orphan, he is accepted by the troupe.
Such altruism comes at a price, however. Like any stay-at-home dad, Freddy’s hands are so full with his new child that he has to take a step back from his other duties, which include protecting the troupe and its territory. Seeing that Freddy’s defense has been weakened, a rival troupe of chimpanzees, led by a male named Scar (we’ll just look past that), plans an attack on Freddy’s troupe’s territory. Things are not looking good for our troupe.
Here’s the trailer:
WARNING – SPOILERS BELOW
Freddy’s attention may be divided, but the combined strength and unity of his troupe as a whole is enough to fend off the rival chimps’ attack. Scar and his followers are pushed back into the forest from whence they came and Freddy’s troupe not only retains control of its territory (including a delicious and profuse nut grove) but gains a good deal of pride from the victory.
What’s more, the producers at Disneynature are good enough to show us the troupe a few months later, as a sort of epilogue to the story. In the end, we see that Oscar is happy and healthy, and that normalcy has returned to the troupe; all things end as they should.
Chimpanzee was released on April 20th 2012 and is now showing in select theaters.