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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Viewers will learn many details about the toque macaque monkeys of Sri Lanka. The movie depicts their social structure, with an alpha monkey and a trio of females at the top (and the protagonist, "Maya," at the bottom). Explains how the monkeys eat, their mating habits, and their obstacles/predators/challenges to survival.
Family-friendly messages about a mother's ability to overcome obstacles to protect her baby and the responsibility of all members of a tribe to protect one another from external threats. A tribute to motherhood, courage, and the sacrifices parents make to keep their babies safe and well-fed.
Positive Role Models
The narration personifies the animals, so it's easy to see Maya as a loving, self-sacrificing mother. She cares for her baby, Kip, fiercely. The mean "sisters" also care foremost for their own offspring, and they're willing to fight others to make sure their children are the best fed.
Violence & Scariness
Violent, disturbing sequences of Maya getting beaten and of her newborn being kidnapped as she's driven away. A violent confrontation between monkey clans leaves one monkey dead and others injured (blood is visible). Another monkey falls victim to a predator. One alpha male has a scarred face and a split lip that make him extra scary looking.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Maya is courted by "hunky monkey" Kumar; they're shown interacting, but the mating takes place off camera.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that nature documentary Monkey Kingdom is family friendly overall but does have a few scenes that could frighten preschool-aged viewers. While Maya, the monkey who's presented as the main character of the story, and her baby remain safe, other members of her clan of macaques do die -- one to an alligator and one to a warring monkey clan. There are also tense moments when it seems like Maya's baby will be hurt, and Maya herself is beaten by more prominent monkeys. On the lighter side, there are strong positive messages about motherhood and sacrifice, and -- thanks in part to Tina Fey's narration -- humor and laughs for the whole family. And on an educational note, everyone will learn a good deal about Sri Lankan macaques. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Nature film experts Mark Linfield and Alastair Fothergill reteam for another Disneynature wildlife documentary that's sure to please both kids and parents. These types of films do tend to humanize the animal subjects, but that won't bother most young viewers (or many older ones, frankly). Thanks to Fey's winning narration and the compelling central storyline, the documentary has a strong narrative arc. Maya is the ideal "underdog"; she's low-born but doesn't let that get in her way, especially when Kumar and baby Kip enter the picture. It's impossible not to root for her and Kip to survive -- even if that means other monkeys are the ones falling prey to alligators and aggressive rivals.
And the visuals, as always, are spectacular. The gorgeous fig tree, the Castle Rock habitat, the neighboring bears -- it's all shot with a majesty and beauty that showcases everything from the three freckles on Maya's face to the heavy rain during monsoon season to the shady trees where the posher monkeys take shelter. Thanks to Maya's courtship with Kumar, the introduction of the baby, and the rival clan, Monkey Kingdom has plenty of plot. It's easy to watch for both for the story and the cinematography -- a great combination of entertainment and educational value. And if little ones get worried about Maya and baby Kip, just remind them that this is, after all, a Disney movie, and our favorite characters will get their happily ever after.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.