‘Monkey King­dom’

Per­son­able Tina Fey nar­rates fas­ci­nat­ing ‘Monkey King­dom.’

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Michael Recht­shaf­fen cal­en­dar@la­times.com

Tina Fey nar­rates de­light­ful look at Sri Lanka simi­ans.

Who can say no to a monkey movie?

Re­sis­tance proves par­tic­u­larly fu­tile when the pro­duc­tion in ques­tion is as amus­ingly fas­ci­nat­ing as “Monkey King­dom,” the lat­est en­try from the ever-en­gag­ing Dis­neyna­ture se­ries of wildlife doc­u­men­taries.

Co-di­rected by Mark Lin­field and Alas­tair Fothergill, who pre­vi­ously teamed on “Earth” and “Chim­panzee,” the pro­duc­tion trains a pen­e­trat­ing lens on the re­mark­ably ex­pres­sive toque ma­caques of Sri Lanka, es­pe­cially a soul­ful 8-year-old fe­male named Maya who had the mis­for­tune of be­ing born at the bot­tom of a highly reg­i­mented so­cial hi­er­ar­chy.

The film of­fers a valu­able life les­son in the pow­ers of de­ter­mi­na­tion and tim­ing, but most of all it’s darned en­ter­tain­ing.

By this point — eight ti­tles into a suc­cess­ful lineup of doc­u­men­taries — the film­mak­ing is down to a science, blend­ing breath­tak­ing cin­e­matog­ra­phy with a com­pelling orig­i­nal sto­ry­line and play­ful nar­ra­tion that’s a far cry from the stud­ied read­ings of those old-school na­ture docs.

Lend­ing “Monkey King­dom” a bonus cool­ness fac­tor is Tina Fey, who, like nar­ra­tor John C. Reilly in the 2014 film “Bears,” isn’t afraid to let her per­son­al­ity to shine through.

Rather than play­ing the im­par­tial voice for hire, she jumps right into the mis­chievous fray, mak­ing this al­ready de­light­ful dis­sec­tion of the busi­ness of monkey busi­ness that much more in­fec­tious.

Jeff Wil­son Walt Dis­ney Stu­dios


of Sri Lanka star in Dis­neyna­ture’s “Monkey King­dom.”

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