MONKEY KINGDOM

I wanted to review TRUE STORY this week but when I went to the screening, I found that the theatre had changed and I didn’t have enough time to make the film. I went home without a movie to evaluate. I had to review something for my column so I faced the unhappy task of going to see a Disneynature monkey movie.

As I drove the hour to Ronnie’s theatre in South St. Louis, I whined to anyone who would listen about having to go to a monkey movie. As the lights went down, dozens of macaque monkey’s ran across the screen to the opening theme song of the Monkee’s television show. I started laughing at their high-jinx and was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed this movie.

Did you know monkeys are really great swimmers? Neither did I.

MONKEY KINGDOM is a nature documentary narrated by Tina Fey, that tells the story a macaque monkey, Maya, and her newborn son, Kip, as they struggle to survive within a competitive social hierarchy of a dynamic group of monkeys who live in the ancient ruins found deep in the jungles of Sri Lanka. The story is chock full of intrigue, chaos, and pathos. It even has villains and heroes.

The grandeur of Sri Lanka, an island country in South Asia near the south-east coast of India, was captured by the fabulous cinematography. This is my first nomination this year for an Academy Award for cinematography. You will be mesmerized by the glorious camera shots. Directors Mark Linfield and Alastair Fothergill captured the antics of a cast they had a difficult time directing. I can’t imagine how long it took to get enough film to put together a story to tell.

As they ran the credits, they showed the directors and camera crew trying to set up the shots. I was as fascinated with the trials and tribulations they went through trying to film the movie in a jungle teeming with all sorts of wildlife, heat and bugs. Lots of bugs.

Released just in time for Earth day, THE MONKEY KINGDOM opens Friday, April 17th. Take your kids or grandkids or borrow a neighbor’s kid to see this film. It is worth the price of admission and for every paid admission Disney will make a donation to preserve wildlife around the world.

Hey! Hey we’re the Monkees!

The Telegraph’s contributing movie critic Mary Cox lives in Wood River and is a member of the St. Louis Film Critics Association, who also occasionally writes about film-related topics, studied film at the University of California, Los Angeles, and worked in L.A. with various directors and industry professionals. She can be reached at mlcwriter@charter.net.