Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Good-Hearted 'Buddy' Sidesteps Deeper Issues

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Good-Hearted 'Buddy' Sidesteps Deeper Issues

Article excerpt

What has exotic animals, interactions with frequently puzzled humans, and lots of special effects?

"The Lost World: Jurassic Park" fits that description, but there's another right answer too - and the second one is a lot friendlier to mayhem-shy moviegoers who'd rather watch animals develop relationships with humans than munch them at snack time.

It's called "Buddy," and while it's not one of the season's best pictures, it provides an oasis for audiences seeking a quieter experience than Steven Spielberg's blockbuster offers. Based on real events, "Buddy" focuses on Gertrude Lintz, a 1920s socialite with a passion for animals and a bank account big enough to indulge it. Her luxurious home swarms with everything from horses and dogs to rodents, serpents, and fish. Her husband, a successful physician, supports her hobby without quite sharing her enthusiasm. A good-natured assistant helps her cope with unexpected challenges that arise from time to time. Trudy loves all her pets, but her favorites are four chimpanzees so cute and smart they "almost seem human," to use a familiar phrase. Taking that expression literally, Trudy raises them as if they were children - teaching them to eat human foods, play human games, even pretend to say human prayers when they go to bed at night. It's this aspect of her personality that makes Trudy a potentially interesting movie character - not just a millionairess with a hobby, but a single-minded eccentric whose dedication has crossed the line into obsession. Is her odd treatment of the chimps a legitimate expression of animal-loving good intentions? Or is she preventing them from having the sort of natural, noncivilized life they were born for? Such questions grow more pressing when Buddy comes along. He's a baby gorilla with serious health problems, and there's no doubt that Trudy's loving care saves his life and restores his health. …

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