By Zachary Flynn
It’s got to be tough to be a part of a movie where 95 per cent of the cast is being out-performed by a Chimpanzee.
Jack the Chimpanzee is the obvious star in the movie MVP: Most Valuable Primate. The movie follows the story of Jack, who escapes from a university once he learns he is to be sold to a medical research lab. In his attempt to return home to his primate family at an animal sanctuary, Jack sleeps through the stop on the train ride and finds himself in Nelson, BC.
Within 48 hours, he meets and befriends Tara, a young deaf girl who adopts him and welcomes Jack into their family to the initial shock and confusion of her family. Somehow, Jack finds his way onto the high school hockey team that Tara’s brother, Steven, plays on. He and the primate lead the team to break their 40-game losing streak and go on to the championship game.
The film would go on to earn a 4.1/10 on IMBD, 20% on Rotten Tomatoes and 43% on Metacritic. And yes, I used the word “earn” intentionally.
From a directing standpoint, the mark was missed. Scenes were jumbled together, scenarios were forced, and there was little to no flow whatsoever. Jack is shown dancing around university halls in roller skates early in the film, then is seen fumbling in ice stakes once he reaches Canada. Less than 24 hours later, he’s off shooting pucks from the blue line so strong they tear holes in the back of the net.
And please, if you’re filming a show in Canada portraying Canadians, understand that we don’t wear our shoes inside the house – especially in the middle of winter.
The vast majority of the adult cast greatly exaggerate their characters, except for the parents of Steven and Tara. Unfortunately, they push it past the point of comedy for anybody above the age of eight.
Robert Vince, the director of this movie, is the same man who brought to screen Air Bud and its subsequent sequels, the Pup Star movies, and two other MVP movies. You read that right, the production crew saw the reviews for Most Valuable Primate and decided to greenlight it for not one, but two sequels. Vince is a one-trick pony and that trick is swindling parents out of their money and their afternoon to watch animals degrade the institution of sport.
From a technical standpoint, they did the most with what they could; however, there were some very deliberate choices that just didn’t work.
In one of the early scenes when Steven is trying out for the worse-than-beer-league high school hockey team, the production team decides to put a spotlight on him when he scores a goal and celebrates. There isn’t anybody in the stands aside from Steven’s sister, and obviously, nobody there to shine a light. It makes zero sense, along with many other choices made in this film.
There were also a number of train scenes very obviously shot on miniatures, shot indoors, lit the wrong way, and with no sense of scale or atmosphere. It’s as if they gave the prop master a weekend, a $30 budget at the local hobby shop, and asked him to do his best.
That being said, the movie likely was made on a shoestring budget. The budget numbers aren’t published, but Box Office Mojo says the movie grossed just over $1.2 million USD.
I understand the movie was geared towards young kids, but I would like to believe that there was potential to turn MVP into something like a ‘Coach Carter’-style movie.
Unfortunately, with too many supporting cast members taking up too much screen time and a director who didn’t care for attention to detail and obviously catered to the movie’s target audience, this film will go down as one of the worst Canadian sports films out there.