Disneynature's 'Monkey Kingdom' swings with the best of them

As a fascinating and delightful wildlife documentary, 'Monkey Kingdom' swings with the best of them

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.


'Monkey Kingdom'

MPAA rating: G, for general audiences

Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes

Playing: General release

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