AWOL for Virgil

#2 on my Movie list for the 50/50 challenge is:

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for movies with animals. Mix in some secret government experiment and violence towards animals and I cry like a baby. This movie was simply put: Wonderful. My animal loving friends recommended it and I’m glad they did. It’s a 1987 film starring Matthew Broderick, Helen Hunt and a chimpanzee.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “Gah! Animal movies are so cheesy!” And I respond by saying:  “Maybe! But you can never go wrong with them.” Well except maybe Shaggy Dog (I still love you Tim Allen!) My favorites include Homeward BoundHaitchiFly Away Home….I could go on and on!

Getting sidetracked though: Project X is about an Air Force pilot who, when suspended from flying, stumbles onto a government research project where he participates in teaching chimpanzees how to fly using a simulator. He of course bonds with a Chimp named Virgil who “mistakenly” gets delivered to the base. Virgil spent 3 years with Helen Hunt being taught sign language for her psychology research grant. So, without giving too much away, Jimmy gets promoted and given full clearance of the project…he then has to decide what side of the moral line he stands on, when he discovers what the project is really about.

Overall, I thought it was a well laid out film. The story may seem a little over the top to some,  but it definitely hits on the ethical controversy of animal testing (and NASA did announce new monkey testing in 2009.) When I first saw Broderick’s face on screen all I could think was Ferris Bueller, but by the end I fell in love with his character and rooted for him. Helen Hunt was just lovely in this and Virgil was amazing. I fell in love with all of them I guess.

In the end, it felt a little like Free willy. Virgil was captured by poachers in the beginning and all he wants is his freedom. Kinda easy to understand. Anyway, I recommend this film if you love movies with animals, or even if you don’t, this movie will appeal to anyone really. The air force, secret government projects, William Sadler as the “bad guy” and a monkey. How can you go wrong?

If you’ve seen it what did you think?

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