Monkey Kingdom (2015)

G   |    |  Documentary

Monkey Kingdom (2015) Poster

A nature documentary that follows a newborn monkey and its mother as they struggle to survive within the competitive social hierarchy of the Temple Troop, a dynamic group of monkeys who ... See full summary »

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  • Monkey Kingdom (2015)
  • Monkey Kingdom (2015)
  • Hayley Orrantia at an event for Monkey Kingdom (2015)
  • Mark Linfield at an event for Monkey Kingdom (2015)
  • Eric Christian Olsen at an event for Monkey Kingdom (2015)
  • Monkey Kingdom (2015)

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5 February 2016 | Buddy-51
| Amazing visuals marred by childish commentary
"Monkey Kingdom" is a wildlife documentary done in the trademarked Disney style - that is, to say, with lots of family-friendly positiveness and unyielding good cheer.

The movie takes us deep into the jungles of Sri Lanka, where a hierarchical society of toque macaque monkeys make their home in the shadow of a long-abandoned ancient city. The main focus is on one female monkey "named" Maya, a low-born member of the community who is consigned to a lifetime of serving those born into the higher strata (the caste system here makes India look like a model of egalitarianism and social mobility in comparison).

"Monkey Kingdom" is obviously aimed at a younger audience, which explains, but doesn't quite excuse, its tendency to talk down to its audience, speaking of the animals' thoughts and feelings in the most blatantly anthropomorphic of terms. It's probably not helped by the jejune Mark Linfield narration (spoken by Tina Fey), which can't resist interjecting corny asides at every opportunity. And a lot of it sure feels staged, especially a trip to a local city and a carefully choreographed raid on a birthday party (how DO they get their cameras in all those different places? Stick around for the closing credits to get an inkling of how it's done).

On the plus side, the high-definition photography is drop-dead gorgeous, and the glimpses the movie provides into monkey sociology - not too far removed from human sociology, I must confess - is often fascinating to observe. Though, I must admit, I frequently found myself wishing the cameras would turn away from the monkeys to explore the nearby ruins - and the history behind them - instead.

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