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MXP: Most Extreme Primate (2003)

a.k.a. MVP3

“What kid doesn’t love a monkey that can snowboard?”

This movie stands out as one of the rare movies that is truly “G” rated and can be enjoyable for kids, teens, parents, and whatever is left. That’s a rare quality and very useful for those family video dates. A snowboarding chimp?

You gotta love it. My husband and I watched it - we have no kids, and we both laughed out loud and enjoyed MXP.

Jack the Chimp accidentally gets separated from his “family” as they are about to board a plane for a Mexican vacation paradise, and he ends up all alone in snowy Colorado instead. Petey, the lonely new kid in town befriends the lost chimp, and takes him home to stay until they can find his family. Petey’s teenaged brother-dude is watching the house while Dad (Robby Benson) is out of town on business.

Jack is also the star of MVP: Most Valuable Primate -the hockey movie and MVP2: Most Vertical Primate, the skateboarding movie. Both movies use similar formulas to this one - lost chimp is befriended by kid who needs a friend, and then Jack shows off his newfound sports skills.

Jack settles right in, playing snowboard video games and eating cereal with the boys. He prefers the luxury of Dad’s empty bed to the lumpy cot from the garage that the boys set up for him, and secretly vacates his bed each night for the big double bed, returning in the morning before he is caught. Jack watches the boys snowboard videos, and pines to try snowboarding. He finds a small board and practices some aerial moves jumping on the bed with the board, then rides down the stairs in the house. What a mischievous monkey!

Pete’s brother Jay has his band practicing in the garage, and when the guys see Jack in his Mexican serape, one says “Where’d you get the Mexi-Monkey from?” Pete joins a snowboarding club at the local hill, but needs a partner to race with in the boardercross, but all the kids are already matched up. I bet you can see what’s coming. Turns out Jack is a natural at snowboarding, using his hands to steer on the snow. The original “knuckle dragger.” Jack catches on really fast, and you see him jump, grind a picnic table, ride a little halfpipe, and just in general have fun doing the things we human riders do. Bjorn Leines has his first major movie cameo as the pro helping to run the contest.

I was interested to know how they got the chimp to do the tricks, and if he really did do them. In the entertaining “Special Features” section of the DVD, Jack’s trainers are interviewed (while Jack sits on their lap. Cute!) One says that “chimps are 5 times more coordinated than humans” and that Jack learned to snowboard and do his tricks in a few months. The director says that there are no special effects. Everything you see Jack do, he really did. Another part of the Special Features has the actors and crew saying how much fun it was to work with Jack on this movie, prompting snowboarding actress Nicole McKay to say “What kid doesn’t love a monkey that can snowboard?”

Another of the special features is a short segment about PACT: People and Chimps Together. That is a non-profit organization dedicated to building a “retirement home and park” for chimps who have retired from acting. A portion of the profits from this movies are being donated to PACT.


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