Space Chimps (2008)

Rated: G
Length: 81 minutes
Grade: CA-CD=C
Budget: $37 million
Box Office: $66 million (30 U.S., 32 Intl., 4 DVD)

Written by: Kirk DeMicco (Racing Stripes, Quest for Camelot) and Robert Moreland, (Happily N’Ever After, Thunder Pig)
Directed by: Kirk DeMicco (First movie)
Starring: The voices of Andy Samberg, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Daniels, Patrick Warburton, Kristin Chenowith, and Stanley Tucci.

When a US probe discovers life on a distant plane, two chimps trained as astronauts and a third, the grandson of the first chimp in space, are sent to find out if the trip can safely be made. While there, they discover that the evil Zartog has taken over the planet with the use of the first probe, and they must stop him if they can before returning to Earth.

Entertainment Value: C
The good news is that there are plenty of antics in this movie to entertain the kiddies. The bad news is that the overall plot is completely silly. The conditions on the alien planet never even remotely approach making sense, although the issues about how the chimps could do everything sort of get resolved at the end. This movie exemplifies the classic modern problem of bad kids movies: it’s just a montage of inside references and 80s music jokes for the adults stuffed into a movie that could never stand on its own. As Pixar shows, kids movies start by being good movies. The jokes and the antics are the seasoning, not the meat.

Superficial Content: A-
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sex/Nudity A, Violence A-, Language A-, Illegal Activity A
Zartog freezes people (a la the White Witch) in this silver goo called freznar. There are some mildly scary chase scenes and one character gets eaten by a monster. Some of the jokes are race-related because one of the NASA techs is Indian. Fear can be overcome by imagining yourself overcoming it.

Significant Content: C
Living up to a legacy is difficult to do. The world needs cooperation from those with academic smarts and those with street smarts. Even chimps want to be heroes and make their lives mean something. Power corrupts bad people. Chimps are people, too.
Artistic/Thought Value: D Since the animation on the alien planet was so low quality and the thought value just isn’t really there.

Discussion Questions:
~Who in this movie shows courage? Why is courage important?
~Who in this movie shows respect to other people? Why is respect important?
~What makes Zartog different from Ham 3? Can you name some people who remind you of Zartog or of Ham 3? What about in the Bible?
~What lessons does Ham 3 learn in this movie? What lessons does Luna learn? What about Titan?
~How does Kilowatt learn to control her fear? What lessons about fear can you learn from her example?

Overall Grade: C
Fairly clean and slapstick funny, but strange and certainly lacking in real content. I’m absolutely certain that $37 million could be spent in much better ways.

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