(out of 5)
Gertrude Davies Lintz (Rene Russo), upon whose autobiography Animals Are My Hobby this beautiful family film is based, is a rich east coast socialite who has populated her mansion and its extensive grounds with animals of all kinds. Inside her home she, along with her warmhearted husband (Robbie Coltrane), raises chimpanzees. She rescues an orphaned baby gorilla from the local zoo and takes it home to raise it with the rest of her family, naming him Buddy and keeping him with her until he gets too old and his primitive instincts take over his abilities to function as a lovable, housebroken pet. The last bit of the film may be a bit too scary for the youngsters, but I myself was appreciative of the sensitive and smart character development that it showed between the gorilla and his loving master. Russo, in her first solo lead role, is exemplary, a charismatic movie star worth watching if ever there was one, and the beautiful art direction provides much for the eye to enjoy looking at. Davies Lintz’s work with her apes provided much inspiration for later researchers Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall.
Directed by Caroline Thompson
Cinematography by Steve Mason
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Costume Design by Colleen Atwood
Film Editing by Jonathan P. Shaw