[Screen It]


(1997) (Rene Russo, Robbie Coltrane) (PG)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild None Minor Mild Minor
Mild None Minor None *Minor
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
None Minor *None Mild Minor

Drama: A depiction of the true life story of Gertrude Lintz, an eccentric 1920's socialite who tries to raise a gorilla, like many chimps before him, as part of her family.
Gertrude Lintz (RENE RUSSO) is a somewhat eccentric 1920's socialite who has decided to create her own zoological menagerie, complete with several playful and mischievous chimps. Her private zoo is seemingly accepted by her doctor husband, Bill (ROBBIE COLTRANE), and along with the help of her assistant, Dick Kroener (ALAN CUMMING), and live-in cook, Emma (IRMA P. HALL), they're one big happy family. Then along comes a sick baby gorilla that Gertrude decides to try to revive and she names him "Buddy." As the gorilla gets healthier, he also gets bigger, and that and his natural "loner" behavior soon test Gertrude's best intentions. After an episode at the World's Fair, and some violent encounters at home, Gertrude and the others must decide what's best for them and for Buddy. (83 Minutes)
Younger kids will, especially if they think this will another "Babe" (the talking pig) type story (it isn't).
As of this date, the reason was not available, but we'd guess it was for a few scenes that are too intense for a G rated film.
  • RENE RUSSO plays a woman dedicated and determined to raise primates as if they're human.
  • ROBBIE COLTRANE plays her supportive husband.


    OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
    This is probably a much different movie than you've been led to think from the recent ads. Many children will believe that it's another "Babe" story, but this time with chimps and gorillas replacing the talking barnyard animals. While there is some fun to be had watching the chimps' antics, much of the story is a more personal drama revolving around Lintz and her relationship with the big ape. Accordingly, there are many scenes, particularly in the second half of the film that will have young kids -- and more than likely their parents as well -- squirming in their seats. Too much is left unexplained, though, and that further takes the wind from this film's sails. We never know why Lintz has gone as far as she has with the animals -- is she just eccentric, or is there a combination of that and a noble cause to treat animals more humanely? The secondary characters -- her husband, assistant, and cook -- are there just as set pieces and we never know why her husband has put up with this behavior and lifestyle. While much of this is based on a true story, it seems odd that a doctor in the 1920's would be accepted with everyone knowing that chimps and other animals have free reign around his house. An explanation would easily have answered that question, but not much is offered here in that realm. Another problem is that no matter how many advances have been made in gorilla costumes, Buddy still looks like a man in a "monkey suit," especially when compared to the live chimps. They're really the stars of the show, stealing every scene that they're in as they perform their bit as comic sidekicks. Sure the film makers had to stick somewhat to the facts, but a story about the chimps would have been much more interesting and fun for the kids. As this one proceeds and as Buddy becomes more belligerent, the fun evaporates and we're left with a weak "Born Free"story. While it's good that kids might get the message that you can't ever completely tame the "beast," they'll be thinking about getting more popcorn due to their loss of interest in the movie. The cast is competent, with Russo doing an okay job and certainly looking the part of a 1920's socialite, but the others characters are there just for Gertrude and her animals to play off for laughs or reactions. With not enough fun material for the kids, and not enough explanation and/or depth for the adults, this movie is stuck in primate limbo. We give it just a 4 out of 10.
    There's not much to object to in this film that will draw youngsters, but it will ultimately probably bore them. A few scenes may be frightening to very young viewers, but most older kids shouldn't be affected. A few other scenes involve drinking, with one character briefly seen drunk, but none of it's too bad. Beyond that, there's very little objectionable material and if not for the few "scary" scenes, this easily could have been rated G. Even so, we suggest that you read through the listings to make sure this film will be okay for your children.

  • Gertrude has wine with dinner.
  • Several visitors to the Lintz household drink what appears to be brandy, and one of the chimps takes a glass and downs the liquor.
  • Dick is drunk from drinking shots of liquor that one of the chimps (who also drinks a shot) pours for him.
  • None.
  • A zookeeper has taken Buddy, as an infant, from his mother and put him in a zoo, not caring that no infant gorilla has ever survived without its mother.
  • Buddy becomes disrespectful and violent, but since he's not human, this really doesn't count for this category.
  • Some may say that Gertrude's raising of primates in her home as "people" instead of as animals is disrespectful of their natural destiny.
  • Early on, there's some talk about Buddy (as an infant) being sick and dying, and some kids may be upset by that.
  • Gertrude shakes a small ceramic skull on a stick, makes eerie sounds, and talks of the "boogie man" to her two mischievous chimps to frighten them back into behaving. Very young children might be unsettled by this, but older kids probably won't.
  • Buddy runs loose at the World's Fair, and many people panic, scream and run away, but the scene isn't inherently scary.
  • Buddy has an aural "flashback" where he hears people screaming and drums beating from the World's Fair. Not knowing that he's getting worked up, Gertrude enters the kitchen, slips on the wet floor and accidentally kicks a metal bowl against Buddy. He turns, and still caught up in the flashback emotions, races toward her and looks very menacing (bared teeth, growling, etc...).
  • There's a thunderstorm scene that scares Buddy that may also frighten very young kids who are also scared of such storms.
  • Buddy goes ballistic in one scene and breaks things in the kitchen and living room while also overturning furniture, etc... and some younger kids may find this unsettling, especially when the police arrive ready to use their guns to shoot Buddy if necessary (they don't).
  • Handguns: Seen in two separate scenes as the police arrive with their guns drawn in case they need to use them against Buddy. They never do.
  • Gertrude makes many animal sounds in one scene (some nearing the famous "Tarzan" yell) to talk to/attract her animals, and some kids may imitate these sounds.
  • While it's questionable whether kids would imitate chimps, the two chimps do throw a meat cleaver back and forth to each other in the kitchen, and in another scene one of the chimps holds the other's head in a toilet.
  • Since the chimps drink liquor in several scenes, some kids may get the idea to feed beer (or other liquor) to the family dog, cat, etc.... especially since some audience members laugh when the chimps are seen drinking.
  • None.
  • There are just a few scenes with minor suspenseful music in them.
  • None.
  • 1 "Oh my God" is the only exclamation.
  • None.
  • Dr. Lintz has a cigar in his mouth in one scene.
  • If you consider Buddy as part of the Lintz family, then yes, they have family troubles as the "youngster" grows up and becomes too much for the "parents" to handle. Otherwise, there are no family problems.
  • The accuracy of this story in portraying the true events.
  • Keeping wild animals as "pets."
  • Why Buddy isn't as sociable or as fun as the chimps.
  • Children may wonder why Buddy and the chimps have to stay in cages at night when they freely roam about the house during the day.
  • Raising animals, particulary primates, as human beings instead of as animals.
  • As Buddy runs freely through the World's Fair, he knocks people over and is knocked to the ground himself by a table that's been pushed in his way.
  • Buddy smashes against his cage in several scenes, and then finally breaks open the metal cage door.
  • Buddy violently knocks Gertrude aside and to the floor in one scene. He then goes into the kitchen and living room and breaks things and overturns furniture, etc...

  • Reviewed June 2, 1997

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