Disneynature’s ‘Monkey Kingdom’ – You’ll Laugh, You’ll Cry! (It’s Better Than ‘Bears’)

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Disneynature has finally found the perfect narrator for their films, and her name is Tina Fey. Their previous films have been good, but they hadn’t found the right mix of story, humor, and documentary until now. Monkey Kingdom is interesting, beautiful, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny; what more could you ask for from a G-rated nature film?

I wasn’t sure what to expect going in to the screening, because I wasn’t a big fan of last year’s Disneynature film, Bears. But my doubts were put to rest almost instantly, when the film began accompanied by the theme song from The Monkees TV series. It set the tone for the film right away, and it didn’t disappoint from there. While the movie has its sad moments, and its moments of peril for the main “characters,” the wit Fey is known for is allowed to shine through enough that you’ll laugh more than you’ll cry. And the filmmakers manage to make you genuinely care about Maya, the macaque whose story is central to the film, and later her son Kip. (It helps that macaques are easier to identify with than many monkeys, as their social structure closely resembles those of many human societies, and the physical resemblance between them and humans–particularly in the hands–is more pronounced than in many other species of monkey.)

I’ll have a full review and a list of things parents should know about Monkey Kingdom this Friday, April 17, when the film opens in the United States. Go see it, and of course take your kids–and, if you can, please try to go during the first week the film is open, because for that week a portion of the film’s proceeds will be donated to Conservation International. In the meantime, please enjoy the trailer below.

My press trip to L.A. and preview screening of Monkey Kingdom were paid for by Disney. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Images and video © Disneynature.

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