Summer of the Monkeys

Movie review by
Scott G. Mignola, Common Sense Media
Summer of the Monkeys Movie Poster Image
A heartwarming chimp tale.
  • G
  • 1998
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

There are good lessons here about altruism and giving.

Violence & Scariness

Mean boys gang up on a kid and club his dog with a metal trap. A big thunder storm hits and a creepy old man dies.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although heavy-handed and predictable at times, this tale of a country boy who discovers four runaway circus monkeys offers some tender moments and a few pleasant surprises. Adapted from the novel by Wilson Rawls. The promising story is treated with excessive earnestness, however, and only the music, which is downright goofy at times, shows any sense of humor. The movie's biggest disappointment is the monkeys themselves. For circus performers, they're just not very entertaining. Younger children might prefer something with more laughs. Older kids and preteens will get swept up by the chimp-laden drama. Teenaged rebels may find themselves identifying with the main character.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDiversityTrainer February 9, 2019

Lots of potential But I could do without the use of guns

We gave this movie a try as it looked interesting and like it would have some good values. When we got into it there is a man in the woods that came after the m... Continue reading
Adult Written byDruidswoman September 24, 2013

Summer of the Monkey Screw up

This story did not follow the novel by Wilson Rawls and is an insult to the book. It is a poorly done movie and a disappointment.
Teen, 15 years old Written byLoranikas303 January 29, 2021

I've never watched this but this is good!

I'm sorry, my teachers didn't put this movie because they've never seen this. I've never seen this before but this is cute! :3 I think I get... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byDogcat January 29, 2021


I loved Summer of the Monkeys as a 6th grader when my English teacher read us the book. Then we watched the movie I loved it! It was very good! Parents give thi... Continue reading

What's the story?

In SUMMER OF THE MONKEYS, Jay Berry Lee is dead-set on getting himself a pony until he stumbles on the hiding place of four trained chimpanzees who have fled their derailed circus train. When a reward is posted for the monkeys' safe return, Jay tries to capture them before the local bullies beat him to it. Aside from the monkeys' pronounced lack of cooperation, the biggest obstacles in Jay Berry's way are a stern mother, an ailing little sister who refuses to take him seriously, and Bayliss Hatcher, a rifle-toting old drunk who won't stand to have meddling boys on his property. Each of these obstacles winds up teaching the restless boy a thing or two about loyalty, responsibility, and courage.

Is it any good?

This movie has its share of monkeys, but we're also forced to deal with the belligerent and unlikable main character, Jay Berry, his limping sister and rigid mother. The script fails to flesh out these characters and leaves us wondering what made them the way they are. Lending a degree of dignity to the proceedings are Michael Ontkean as Jay Berry's subdued and kindhearted father, and Wilford Brimley as Grandpa Sam, the crusty old voice of reason.

But a few good actors can't overcome the movie's biggest disappointment -- the monkeys themselves. For circus performers, they're just not very entertaining. Mostly they sit around, occasionally throwing in a tired back flip or two.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the lessons that Jay Berry learned through the course of the movie.

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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