Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Space Chimps

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:G
Profanity:Brief schoolyard language
Nudity/Sex:Brief potty humor
Alcohol/Drugs:Reference to drinking
Violence/Scariness:Creatures with scary teeth, some peril, no one hurt (but it appears some are hurt or swallowed)
Diversity Issues:Ethnic, gender, and species diversity
Movie Release Date:July 18, 2008
DVD Release Date:November 25, 2008
space chimps.jpg

This genial animated sci-fi comedy about astronaut chimps is an unpretentious summer pleasure, an entertaining mix of adventure and comedy that even manages to find some heart.

Ham III (voice of “Saturday Night Live’s” Andy Samberg) is a chimpanzee circus performer whose most popular trick is being shot from a cannon. As he rises higher in the sky before crashing down to earth again, he reaches wistfully toward the moon, thinking of his grandfather Ham, who was sent up in a space capsule by NASA back in 1961. Ham’s only family now is his grandfather’s friend Houston (voice of Carlos Alazraqui), who has been looking out for Ham as long as he can remember.

But Ham III does not like rules, authority, or thinking of himself as a hero, so when NASA wants him to go on a space mission, he declines. However, it turns out it was not a request but an order, so he soon finds himself in training with some serious and highly qualified space chimps, Titan (voice of Patrick Warburton), Luna (voice of Cheryl Hines of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), and Comet (voice of Zach Shada).

The chimps are needed because an American space probe has been sucked into a wormhole and ended up on an alien planet. It is too dangerous to send humans after it, but the Senator in charge (Stanley Tucci) is willing to send the chimps. And so Titan and Luna, whose entire space experience is being part of a historical exhibit about what happened with the first Ham in 1961 are sent up with Ham III, who is added to provide some public relations sizzle. Comet and Houston stay home to provide support. And yes, Houston, we have some problems.

On the alien planet, a bully named Zartog (voice of Jeff Daniels and more silly than scary) is using the space probe to control the sweet-natured, jelly-bean-colored inhabitants and force them to give him a really extreme home makeover. Will the chimps complete their mission and return home with their ship or will they help solve the problem that earth’s technology has created?

Everyone has some lessons to learn as the chimps have to navigate hostile terrain (including the Valley of the Very Bad Things and a monster with a lot of big, sharp teeth), confront Zartog, and do some DYI construction to find their way home. They will prove that they can do more than the humans thought and even more than they knew was possible themselves.

Samberg is an appealing hero and the brisk pacing and lively visuals keep things moving. These astro-chimps have the right stuff.

  • micheal

    great reviews cant wait for more and hey a girl writes this right so girl, can we get in touch

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks for the kind words, Michael! Consider yourself in touch with the Movie Mom.

  • jean

    thanks for the great reviews.
    My 7 year old just got back from this movie and is totally freaked out about the bad guy. Apperently having the claw grab the charactures and freezing them really effected him. I was wondering if anyone has had a similar experience. My husband took him today with out his little brothers. I wonder if they had been there and didn’t have a problem with it things would be different? We are pretty strict on the movies he sees, but he sees things he shouldn’t on video games (and an occasional movie at a friends). This really surprised us and we are trying to see if there is something else contributing to it. Just mostly curious to see if anyone else has had the same problem.

  • Nell Minow

    Jean, thanks so much for this very helpful comment. This is just the kind of information that is especially helpful to users of this site. Kids are so unpredictable and varied at that age when it comes to scary and tense material. I brought two kids with me to the movie and watched all of those around me carefully but none seemed concerned about the “freezing,” though some were about the cave monster.
    You are doing the exactly right thing by trying to see if something else is going on and I so respect your care in protecting him from a lot of what is out there. The other thing I recommend is working on that essential life skill even adults need to rely on — how we learn to respond to the things that scare us. Sometimes it helps to have them tell you a story or draw a picture about how they could defeat the bad guy. “The Annie Stories” is a wonderful book that really helped our kids deal with scary stuff. Thanks so much and please let us know if he gives you any insights into what prompted his response.

  • jean

    Thank you so much for the helpful tips! Last night at bedtime he began acting up again. Saying I just want to get it out of my head oh why wont it get out of my head… I didn’t quite know what to do. I thought perhaps if he pictured the bad guy wearing really funny clothes with clown shoes and the like.. it didn’t work. But drawing a way to defeat him that is a great idea. I will have to look into the Annie stories. My husband is really surpised because although we are strict on movies, he used to watch a lot of Jimmy Nuetron and my husband thought there were much scarier things in those shows. Perhaps part of it is being in the big dark theater where as at home you feel a little safer and can walk away from it if you want.
    Thanks again!!!

  • Crystal

    I am so glad to have read your addendum to Nell’s review. I come to this site every time before I consider renting or taking my 5yo to a movie. It is so helpful, and I specifically look for things that will bother my anxious son at bedtime based upon the movie.
    Nell, love this site. Thanks!

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