Animal Kingdom: Let’s Go Ape (PG) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Jamel Debbouze, France, 2015, 87 mins

Cast: Ben Bishop, Mélissa Theuriau, Arié Elmaleh, Christian Hecq

Review by Michelle Moore

Animal Kingdom: Let’s Go Ape is based on the novel Evolution Man by Roy Lewis and tells the tale of how human civilization began. Originally released as a French animation, the movie has been dubbed with English voices for UK audiences.

Several million years ago in the desert monkey twins are born. The youngest is rough and the spitting image of his dad while Edward, the first born and in line to the throne is a tiny thing that the king orders to be taken away and never spoken about; he is brought up by an albino monkey.

Having grown up away from the other monkeys when Edward is identified as the first son, he tries to forget he was rejected and blend in, but is pushed away by his powerful younger brother. Out on his own he meets a female monkey and through their relationship Edward discovers fire, hunting, using tools, walking upright and falls in love.

The animation is excellent with swinging shots through trees and chases, each with bold colours and a sharpness that is really bought to life. The apes have all been given humanoid features, faces that could well have been the initial stages of evolution. Unfortunately when it comes to the dubbing of English voices over the original French, things appear out of place and Edward especially sounds like a cockney street kid. This is more notable when he says things such as “wicked”, “man” and “that’s awesome” and when he spends the entire movie with his right hand down his loin cloth (he is the only monkey to wear one). There appears to be some connection between Edward and Debbouze as neither are able to use their right arm, however there is no mention as to why Edward has this disability; Edward appears to be just a kid with his hands down his pants and talking in cockney slang!

There are moments that will leave a viewer laughing such as Edward learning to hunt, being chased with the other animals and developing dancing and music after sharing a meal. Things take an odd turn when he decides he wants to call his baby David Beckham (“we’ll call him golden balls for short”). As well as the more comical aspects, there are some elements that just don’t sit straight and these happen at the start of the movie when the albino monkey is first told “I told you not to show your albino face around here”, then he is made fun of for not being able to talk and communicate and finally to top it all off he is beaten by the other monkeys until Edward steps in and the bullying stops. As well as issues of bullying there are also matters of rivalry and jealousy explored.

Although the movie doesn’t start out on a very high note with bullying and rejection of a child, it is worth continuing with the film as things get better, the comedy kicks in and a few laughs are on offer. There may be tough questions to be answered by parents of very young viewers, about the kissing scene, for instance, so be prepared for a grilling!

Animal Kingdom: Let`s Go Ape is released exclusively in VUE cinemas from 23 October