Movie News & Reviews

‘Monkey Kingdom’ blends hijinks with reality of life in the wild


Capering through the treetops of a Sri Lankan jungle. Scampering through the ruins of an ancient Buddhist temple. Looting food from an unoccupied school classroom — What’s this? Birthday cake. Tasty! Swarming over the rooftops of a bustling city, dropping down to grab fruits and other goodies from market stalls — Hey! Popcorn! And pineapples! Yum! And hey, human, who are you to shoo me and my primate mates away?

It’s not all monkeyshines in “Monkey Kingdom.” Those scenes are the comic relief in this, the latest in the Disneynature series of true-life adventure documentaries.

Directors Mark Linfield and Alastair Fothergill have fashioned a tale of a toque macaque single-mom monkey named Maya. She’s trying to raise her big-eared, big-eyed baby Kip and keep him safe from such sylvan hazards as primate-eating leopards and monstrous monitor lizards, not to mention mistreatment by higher-status members of the little family’s own home troop of simians.

There’s education to be had here as narrator Tina Fey explains the rigid social hierarchy that relegates Maya to the bottom of the macaque pecking order (if such a birdy term can be applied to monkeys). She’s way down the ladder from the troop’s alpha male and his coterie of status-conscious females who regularly swat, smack and otherwise abuse Maya and Kip to forcefully remind them of who is top dog, er, monkey around this neck of the jungle.

But Maya is plucky and resourceful and strong of spirit, so fear not, family audiences, all will be well in the end. The picture is G-rated, after all.