Disneynature’s documentary films have become somewhat of an annual tradition over the past few years, a new one arriving each Spring, just in-time for Earth Day. Following the successes of AFRICAN CATS, CHIMPANZEE and BEARS (review here) comes this year’s entry, MONKEY KINGDOM. Beautifully-shot (as expected) under the direction of Disneynature series vets Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, 30 ROCK’s Tina Fey provides the narration for this time around.
A parenting story at its core, MONKEY KINGDOM follows Maya and her young son, Kip, as they navigate the social circles of others in their extended monkey clan, eventually finding themselves in danger and chased from their homes by the alpha monkeys of another tribe. Watching the film with small children, it’s important to note that unlike BEARS, there are some strong moments of true fright, peril, and yes… even death, that are present in MONKEY KINGDOM‘s depiction of real life. Indeed, animals do attack (remember when the “when [blank] attacks!” was all the rage?), and in this case it’s an essential part of the life cycle, and the filmmakers included it.
That said, there’s a lot of whimsy here as well, and the familial aspects of MONKEY KINGDOM are the real heart of the movie – or any Disneynature film. Narrative aside, there’s always a fascination (especially with kids) in watching how animals interact within their natural world – in this case, the jungles and ruins of Sri Lanka, a majestic backdrop for these Toque Macaque monkeys to live, explore, and to find adventure.
For this Fall’s home release, Disneynature has packed the Blu-ray Combo Pack with bonus features that focus on the conservation efforts of Disneynature, and on a return to “the set” of the film through the eyes of “Ambassadors” such as the legendary Jane Goodall.
Bottom Line: MONKEY KINGDOM is another fine entry into Disneynature’s growing library, and a fine primer for 2016’s BORN IN CHINA.