Making the Grades
Deep space travel isn't monkey business unless it involves a handful of chimps commissioned to retrieve a lost probe. Strapped into a powerful rocket are Titan (voice by Patrick Warburton), Luna (voice by Cheryl Hines) and Ham III (voice by Andy Samberg), the grandson of an illustrious early interplanetary animal explorer.
Hurtling through a wormhole on the trail of the probe, the threesome crash on an alien planet best described as the land of mutant Teletubbies. There, the inhabitants' leader, Zartog (voice by Jeff Daniels) has taken control of the lost space vehicle and is using it as a throne of intimidation.
Back on earth, mission control loses contact with the orbiting primates once they enter the wormhole. Despite the pleas of the classic scientific nerds (voices by Omid Abtahi, Patrick Bean and Jane Lynch) who are in charge of the launch, a boneheaded Senator (voice by Stanley Tucci) is ready to pull the plug and leave the capsule careening through the galaxy.
Unable to reestablish communications with the command center, the stranded chimp-o-nauts don't monkey around. Confronting Zartog, they attempt to retake the probe and retrofit it for a bumpy ride home. However, a budding romance between Luna and Ham, and the increasingly hostile intentions of Zartog threaten to leave the hairy space travelers marooned on the strange orb forever.
Staying true to his name, the protagonist frequently "hams" it up as he shifts his confidence into overdrive. Later he (and young viewers) learns a few lessons about teamwork and humility. The intervening comedic moments may not be entertaining enough for adults to go ape over but there are some fun moments for baby chimps that, thankfully, don't all involve bathroom humor -- although a couple of questionable moments include a veiled sexual remark and some terms of Deity.
Probably more appropriate for the 12 and under crowd, Space Chimps tells a reasonably engaging story in spite of a few social and ethnic stereotypes (like bespectacled nerds and white, middle-aged politicians). Luckily for little ones, the banana-eating heroes come up with the right stuff.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Space Chimps.
Courage is an important characteristic for the men and women who face the unknown and travel into space. What other careers would demand this same quality? What situations may require a show of bravery?
What stereotypical portrayals do we see in this film?
What challenges does Ham III experience while trying to live up to his grandfather’s heritage?
Dogs, monkeys and mice have all played a vital role in space exploration. Their involvement in the program allowed scientists to prepare for human flight. For information on these animal astronauts, visit NASA’s historical page at http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/9-12/features/F_Animals_in_Space_9-12.html.