Today I went to see Space Chimps with my daughters, ages 8, 6, and 3.
QUICK SHOT: Pretty good. Funny. Good animation. Decent story. The three-year-old found some moments to be scary. I found some of the humor to be aimed at adults, but only in passing comments or double-meanings that my kids would not understand. My six-year-old and eight-year-old said they want to see it again. And, perhaps most important to parents, none of the bad behavior in the story is handled in such a way that justifies bad behavior.
SYNOPSIS (no spoilers): Chimps In Space! Ham III is the grandson of a chimp who became famous for riding a rocket during the early days of the space program. Today, a (human) U.S. senator holds the keys to NASA’s funding , and he needs a public relations ploy to get Americans excited about a new mission. So Ham III is called upon to make a space voyage with two other chimp crew members who are trained for space travel. Three brilliant but fumbling engineers — human engineers — guide the mission from a control room while the senator stands over them.
MESSAGES: Such movies are rarely (in my experience) preachy, but they still have underlying points or lessons. In Space Chimps, a few good things are clear. (A) Space missions are expensive — very expensive, and cost taxpayers a lot of money. (B) Absolute power corrupts absolutely. (C) Pride goes before a splat. (D) By different turns, team work and self-sacrifice are honorable and remain the best way to succeed.
NONSENSE: Well, needless to say, the chimps we’ve sent into space couldn’t execute quite as many tasks as these characters pull off.
MEMORABLE LINE: One of the chimps has a moment of inner conflict about his duties. This is not verbatim, but very close: “Why couldn’t I have been born a rabbit or a squirrel or an art history major? No expects anything from them!” An art history major! I’m still cracking up about that one.
Have you seen Space Chimps? Agree, disagree, or add your thoughts by commenting on this post.
-Colin Foote Burch, member, Society of Professional Journalists; affiliate member, Religion Newswriters Association
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