Space Chimps
Sometimes, It's Fun To Be A Kid

Soon after my arrival at the theater, I noticed that the space usually occupied by PR personnel was instead inhabited by two young women from the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (CSNW), whose t-shirts bore a simple message: “98.76% Human”—referring to the percentage of genetic information shared by chimpanzees and humans. I must admit, my first thought was, Oh, brother! A cartoon designed to manipulate and initiate children into the world of political causes.

The sanctuary itself, located in Cle Elum, Washington (www.chimpsanctuarynw.org), provides a quiet, comfortable place where chimpanzees previously used in government or private sector research retire in comfort and peace as they live out their days. It would appear they are not throwing money toward public awareness; despite monthly trips through Cle Elum, I had never heard of this sanctuary.

Andy Samberg voices Ham III in Space Chimps

Fortunately, my apprehensions were soon put to rest. With a target audience of young children, Chimps purely and simply tells a story about chimps who are sent to space in search of life on another planet.

Visually, the film itself is vividly colorful, with good animation complementing an already engaging, interesting story. Notably, the children attending the screening were quiet—and as the grandfather of six small children, the quietude speaks volumes about the film’s ability to capture its intended audience’s attention and, even more difficult, maintain it throughout film; in that respect, I would call the movie a “success.” Additionally, the stars who assumed the personalities of these chimp-imated characters (beyond merely providing a voice) added significantly to the experience. Also worth mentioning is that the dialogue of this “cartoonish” film is actually quite clever—perhaps over the head of the typical 9-year-old, of course, but it is precisely such “grown-up” wit that makes the movie appealing to both parents and children.

Space Chimps is a fun movie, even though I expected far less than the film actually delivered. The creatures are none too scary, and the good guys—the chimps as well as the friends they acquire while on their mission—are, admittedly, pretty cute. Several positive themes and lessons are woven into the movie as well: friendship, self-sacrifice, and mutual understanding, in addition to numerous others.

Another important message within Space Chimps is that none of us is immune from taking advantage of those weaker than ourselves—a clear and gentle reminder for each of us.

This is one of those rare occasions where a simplistic story is at least entertaining enough to keep adults interested—though I am not sure that the chimp sanctuary will gain any value from this film; but I doubt a manipulative cartoon-a-mentary about evil adults taking advantage of poor helpless little chimps would, either. So I am glad for the independent pragmatism on display in this Saturday-morning film.

Space Chimps is rated G for G-whiz. Pretty good! Much of the humor, though, will be too subtle and sophisticated for the kids… maybe about 98.76% of it.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Mike attended a promotional screening of Space Chimps.