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Project Nim | 2011 | PG-13 | - 5.4.5

A documentary based on the true story of a chimpanzee that was the focus of an experiment to determine if apes can communicate like humans: Chimp Nim Chimpsky was first taken from his mother at two weeks old and raised as a child on the Upper West Side of New York in the 1970s, continued to be the center of a very hands-on linguistic study and finally retired on a rescue farm. Directed by James Marsh. [1:33]

SEX/NUDITY 5 - As we see a chimpanzee climbing over a woman wearing a bikini, a woman narrates that she had a conversation with another woman about the chimp exploring his sexuality, including masturbation.
 A woman describes how she had never been sexual with a chimp but had felt very "sensual" and that a chimp had recognized the woman's naked body. During an interview, a woman mentions that she had breastfed a chimp; we do not see the process of breastfeeding.
 During an interview, a woman explains that she had witnessed a male chimp having sex with a female chimp, and suspects that the chimp was the father of the female chimp's child. During multiple interviews, men and women discuss how they had started a sexual relationship with one another while working together. A woman states during an interview that she has very close feelings for people she had been sexually involved with previously.
 A woman explains that a chimp would try to sexually mount a rock, and we see video footage of a chimp thrusting against a baby doll. A woman narrates that a chimp would attempt to mount cats, bringing the cat near its genitals; we see a chimp trying to mount a cat, and holding it in front of its crotch.
 Multiple photographs and video footage show shirtless men. Multiple photographs of a man standing in a shower are seen, while he holds a chimp.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 4 - On multiple occasions men and women describe how a chimp had attacked and bit them: a woman graphically describing how a chimp had attacked her face, biting into her cheek so deeply that it almost went through to her mouth, and as the woman describes the attack we see flashes of blood on sidewalks and through a house and an image of a woman standing before a mirror with blood covering her face, and the woman explains that she had to leave the wound open for three weeks in order to prevent infection; a woman describes how her mother had entered a chimp's cage, the chimp grabbed her and threw her from side to side, another woman remarks that it looked like the chimp was throwing her like a "rag doll" and they thought the chimp might kill the woman but she was rescued after the chimp was distracted; a woman points to multiple (unseen) scars on her arm as she describes dangerous bites inflicted by a chimp; and a woman describes how a chimp had bitten her wrist so severely that it had almost severed a tendon and she had to be hospitalized.
 A woman describes that a chimp had leapt from a second story and landed on her, and then slammed her head against a sidewalk repeatedly; the woman says that it had taken four men to pull the chimp off her. A woman explains that a chimp had accidentally thrown a dog with such force against a wall that the dog died; we see blood spatter on a wall.
 A man explains that chimps were used for medical experiments; we see chimps cry and shake their cages as a man attempts to insert a syringe into a chimp. We see a chimp lying on a gurney with medical tubes and tubes of blood attached to it.
 A woman describes how a man had shot a mother chimp with a tranquilizer gun in order to safely remove her son; we briefly see a flash of a man shooting a gun, the bullet casing popping out from the side.
 A woman says that a chimp had lightly bitten her, so she bit the chimp's ear and the chimp never bit her again. A man describes that a chimp has a very strong jaw and sharp teeth, which would be very dangerous. A woman describes that a chimp would feel very threatened and would react by attacking, ripping and tearing at a human or objects that were in its way. A man explains that a chimp was becoming significantly more dangerous. A woman explains that a chimp would accidentally shove a cat against the ground while hugging it. During an interview, a woman describes that she had been "frightened and intimidated" by chimps in a facility. Footage of a television being smashed against a wall is seen and a woman narrates that a chimp had broken a television. A woman explains that a chimp had thrown a chair through a window. Two women jokingly discuss how a chimp would take books from a shelf and throw them on the ground to express displeasure. During an interview, a man explains that experiments on animals are inhumane when the animal is able to communicate as a human and was raised as a human.
 We see video footage of men and women playfully and lightly pushing and slapping a chimp as a form of punishment or a way to get the chimp's attention. A man narrates that a farm was set up to rescue abused and neglected animals and we see various starved horses and a lame deer limping around.
 We hear sound of urinating and see a chimp standing over a toilet, presumably urinating as a woman narrates that she had trained a chimp to use a toilet after changing the chimp's diaper became too difficult. We see chimp feces on the floor of a laboratory.


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LANGUAGE 5 - About 3 F-words, 5 sexual references, 3 scatological terms, 1 anatomical term, 4 mild obscenities, name-calling (brilliant beggar, impotent, naïve, lost, uneducated, bugger, single spoiled child, pig-headed).


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SUBSTANCE USE - Video footage and photographs of two men and a woman smoking a marijuana cigarette are seen as a man explains that he and a woman would give a chimp marijuana to smoke, we see video footage of a chimp smoking a marijuana cigarette and two photographs of a chimp with a marijuana cigarette in its mouth, a photograph of a woman smoking a marijuana cigarette and blowing the smoke toward a chimp is seen while a woman narrates that she had smoked marijuana and allowed a chimp to also smoke marijuana, a woman describes how she had given a chimp sips of alcohol and he would want more and how she would allow a chimp to smoke marijuana, and we see a photograph of an ashtray with two marijuana cigarettes in it. An ashtray filled with cigarettes including one still smoking is seen next to a man.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Nature versus nurture, linguistic experimentation, 1970s, Columbia University, animal cruelty, medical testing on animals, disappointment, abandonment, keeping a wild animal as a pet, American Sign Language, unique self, LEMSIP animal testing, Grateful Dead, habeas corpus, exploitation, co-opting animals.

MESSAGE - There is a lot to be learned from human-animal interaction.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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