6/10 While receiving a 14% on Rotten Opinions and paired with a rather cheesy trailer, I had very low expectations for this movie. To my pleasant surprise, this isn’t nearly as bad as the “critics” would have you believe it to be, but it also isn’t anything groundbreaking either. This movie is based upon a true story but it is odd that the movie doesn’t tell you that with onscreen text and the beginning of the movie, like most fact based movies tend to do. This is most likely due to the fact that there have been multiple handicapped people paired up with monkies as service animals so this movie takes from several peoples’ stories instead of specifically from one individual. The Boston based Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled paired service monkies with disabled men and women from 1979 until 2020, when it stopped the program to focus more on helping the disabled with technology as opposed to animals. As for this movie, let’s get the negatives out of the way first. Despite not being as eye rolling as I thought it might be, there are some slightly cheesy moments throughout the movie. A lot of the supporting characters get little to no development and while Chloe Gaines (played by Welker White) acts as the movie’s antagonist, she is given no personality or development other than being a mean animal rights activist with no compassion for Nate (Charlie Rowe). The direction is rather bland and the plot goes through all of the story beats that you’d expect it to. Finally, there is a bit of product placement for Coca-Cola that was mildly distracting. While these problems do hamper the movie, there is still a lot to admire, making this worth your while on streaming (it isn’t necessary to be seen on the big screen) if you keep your expectations in check and don’t expect to be blown away. One of the best aspects of the movie is the emotional strength of the screenplay. Nate’s deterioration eary on in the movie is heartbreaking and seeing his family’s suffering paired with Nate’s suicidal ideations as he knows what a burden he is to everyone around him very well might bring you to tears as it did for me. Rowe gives a solid performance as our leading man and I was happily surprised to see some bigger names in the supporting lineup like Marcia Gay Harden and Jim Belushi. While CGI was utilized for Gigi, the movie’s monkey, during scenes where a real monkey would have been put in danger (being chased by a dog for instance), the film makers wisely did film with a real monkey for as often as they possibly could. The CGI monkey is obviously CGI when compared to shots of the real monkey but I was happy that a real monkey was utilized as often as possible. While this could have been a G or PG rated movie, the PG-13 rating actually helped the movie as some of the darker humor was effective and had me laughing in multiple scenes (Nate’s grandma was the GOAT). Between the laughter and the tears, the fact that this is based on a true stories and the equal parts uplifting and heartbreaking elements, along with the dedicated cast makes this much better than I was expecting. It won’t get any Oscar nominations and isn’t a game changer but the heartfelt script just might move you the way it moved me…and that ain’t no monkey business.

#SaveTheNate / #GetTheMonkeyOnOnesBack / #SwingKong / #KeepYourCapuChinUp / #TryingMonkies / #WonderWheelChair

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