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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Space Chimps is an animated chimp comedy that's straightforward and age-appropriate for the young kids it's targeted at. There's some mild peril on an alien planet (an alien tyrant terrorizes his fearful followers by threatening to permanently freeze them). There are creepy-looking aliens that may scare kids, and there's constant peril. A character appears to be dead but isn't. A monster appears to eat a character. Astronaut chimp Ham is attracted to Luna, his female co-astronaut, and flirts obnoxiously with her. Even though she can't stand him, he asks, "What should we name our kids?" Positive messages about teamwork and courage.
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What's the story?
The nation's space program is in jeopardy after an expensive rover unexpectedly goes off course through a wormhole too dangerous for astronauts to navigate. Mission control concocts a last-ditch plan to send chimps on the retrieval mission. Since the first chimp in space, Ham, is long dead, the powers that be select his grandson, wisecracking circus performer Ham III (voiced by Andy Samberg) to join trained chimp crew members Titan (Patrick Warburton) and Luna (Cheryl Hines). Things get a bit tricky when they eventually find the rover on a pastel-colored planet where a tyrant named Zartog (Jeff Daniels) is using it to enslave his fellow aliens.
Is it any good?
The combination of space exploration and talking animals should make this appealing for the elementary school set. Not every animated movie has to be a sophisticated masterpiece, and sometimes a goofball chimp and his buddies are good for laughs. With Pixar creating thoughtful, memorable animated films such as WALL-E that even childless adults love, it's hard for a regular old cartoon comedy to compete. But once your initial surprise at the Care Bears-level animation wears off, you may find that it's easy to enjoy SPACE CHIMPS' silly jokes. The references to The Right Stuff, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Apollo 13 are obvious but still clever.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Ham doesn't take anything seriously at first. Is it difficult to live up to accomplished relatives?
How does teamwork save the day? What else do the chimps learn in this movie?
Families can also discuss whether the high standards set by Pixar's Oscar-winning movies have made other animated films less enjoyable. Do you expect more from animated movies now? Why, or why not?
- In theaters: July 18, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: November 24, 2008
- Cast: Andy Samberg, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Daniels
- Director: Kirk De Micco
- Studio: Vanguard Animation
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Space and Aliens, Wild Animals
- Character Strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 81 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
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