Animal Kingdom: Let’s Go Ape
In the first minute of French actor/director Jamel Debbouze’s Animal Kingdom: Let’s Go Ape, you know that something isn’t quite right. The out of sync English dubbing is the first of many problems in this animated tale of the dawn of human civilization. It’s just so weird. And not in a good way.
Based on the novel Evolution Man by Roy Lewis, it tells the story of Edward (Debbouze), the first descendent from apes, as he tries to overcome the rejection from his tribe and the ongoing rivalry with his ape brother. It’s the age-old sensitive, bright weakling versus the world story. Edward soon discovers everything from walking, to fire, to weapons of mass destruction, as mankind travels from runt offspring to master of the universe. It’s an interesting and indeed intelligent story. The problem is Debbouze’s direction.
There’s a desperation that never leaves Animal Kingdom as it tries its very hardest to be cool, to be relevant. When the smart and innovative protagonist speaks in slang and has his hand habitually in his loincloth for the whole of the film, you can’t help but stare at the screen in disbelief. “Ting” and “Bredrin” are supposed to connect with a young audience, but when a child asks “Is it over yet?” and sighs in desolation when it’s not, it’s safe to say that Edward is just not cutting it for the children.
Although there is a cohesive narrative, there are too many sporadic moments to even care about it. The issues that are there, rivalry and jealousy, are too contrived to make an impact. The film goes so far as to copy the classic herd/dying-father scene in The Lion King, but it does so with none of the panache of its predecessor. There isn’t a tear in sight. When Edward suggests calling his son “Golden Balls” and swiftly moves on to an “I have a dream” speech, it begs the question as to how this film ever got greenlit in the first place.
Relevance is not about pop culture, it’s about appealing to the human nature through emotional awareness. The crème de la crème of animated films are timeless: they handle intense issues in a safe and non-confrontational way. The youth of today should be pitied if Animal Kingdom: Let’s Go Ape is the future. One star is a very, very generous review.
Animal Kingdom: Let’s Go Ape is released nationwide on 23rd October 2015.
Watch the trailer for Animal Kingdom: Let’s Go Ape here: