Special announcement: If you see Monkey Kingdom on its opening week, April 17 to 23, 2105, Conservation International will receive a donation to protect monkeys and other endangered species in the wild!
I can’t help but love Disneynature. I’ve always been a supporter of protecting wild animals in their habitats. None of us wants to see amazing species living in the wild go extinct, but these animals face many threats. Disneynature is doing something about it by shining a spotlight on the animals in their wild habitats, encouraging kids to learn about an array of magnificent creatures through the films they release yearly just in time for Earth Day.
The movies are family friendly and G-rated, never showing the brutality of the real circle of life. Instead the animals become “characters,” and we journey along with the protagonists in their struggle to survive and moments of triumph. Kids will feel as if they have befriended these animals, which are not only cute (in their own way) but fascinating.
In Monkey Kingdom, we fall in love with Maya, a toque macaque monkey living in Sri Lanka among some ancient jungle ruins.
She is one of the lowest monkeys in this monkey kingdom’s strict hierarchy, and the challenges she faces in finding nourishment for herself, and later her baby Kip, is riveting, at times suspenseful, at other times joyful or sad. The nature photography is absolutely incredible, and how these shots were achieved in capturing Maya’s story — the countless hours of patiently waiting to grab the key moments in the monkeys’ journey — is mind boggling.
I’ve heard criticism that Tina Fey’s voice over in the film undermines the magnificence of the photography. It is true that the photography is among the best nature photography recently recorded, but to make the images captured accessible to kids, Fey’s humorous and often silly comments could be considered necessary.
Yes, it is problematic to label certain “characters” as “bad guys” in an environment where such labels don’t exist. However, Fey helps to humanize these monkeys so that the youngest can understand and relate to them and laugh with them.
In terms of a family-friendly movie to see with the kids this weekend. My top pick is Monkey Kingdom!
Reel Mama recommendation: Age 6 and up (select moments that include a threat from a predator might be too scary for younger viewers).