Virtually everyone loves animal documentaries. And the best kinds are those that not only inform the audiences, but also make them empathize with the subject animals. This can be accomplished when names and personalities are given to the animals, and their behavior and the chronicles of their daily routines are interpreted through an enthralling narrative.
Disneynature – an independent film label under Walt Disney Studios that produces nature documentary films – has perfected making these through the years. Monkey Kingdom, the label’s latest offering, could be their best yet. Narrated by Tina Fey, the film focuses on a troop of toque macaque monkeys living in a (if I remember it correctly) Sri Lankan jungle.
The central protagonist of the story is Maya, who belongs to the lowest level of her troop’s social hierarchy. The story follows her daily struggles for survival while enduring the disadvantages of being a low-born, and how she is able to eventually overcome all these hardships and make a bright future for herself and her son, Kip.
Monkey Kingdom is brilliant, charming film that effectively blends learning and entertainment. It doesn’t have a dull second, not only because monkeys are innately comical creatures, but because the beautiful footage are expertly manipulated to create a genuinely endearing drama that could almost rival the best of Walt Disney’s most heartfelt animated features. It’s easily one of my favorite movies of the year.