Plot: A lot of chimps end up inside research labs, but few are as talented as Jack. He is very intelligent and thanks to his sign language skills, he is quite a sought after primate for research labs. But Jack doesn’t let his intelligence and soon enough, he cracks an escape plan and leaves the lab in the distance. He might be free now, but he is lost and needs to find some help, without being recaptured. So when he meets a couple youngsters and discovers he has some hockey skills, Jack finds himself in the middle of a new home. So Jack and his new friends have fun out on the ice, but with the lab officials on the trail of the talented chimp, the reign on the rink might come to an end soon. Can Jack help his team win the playoffs, get the townsfolk behind him, and then somehow stay out of his former lab home?
Entertainment Value: This is a movie about a chimpanzee who becomes an ice hockey star, which should tell you all you need to know about MVP. If that premise seems like one you’d appreciate, you likely will have fun with the movie and if not, then you aren’t likely to be won over here. The narrative is of course outlandish, as it centers on the chimp’s rise to glory on the ice, but for a fluff, family friendly ride, it covers all the needed bases. The movie has some an upbeat vibe and a positive overall message, while providing a good amount of silliness and of course, our beloved chimp going wild out on the ice. I am always interested in chimp movies and MVP gives the primate the central role, so there’s plenty of chimp hijinks in this one. The humor is light and brisk, as you’d expect from this kind of movie and for younger viewers, the jokes are likely to earn some laughs, but grown ups might have some fun here too. I think it is a neat movie that has some silliness that could appeal to all ages, but obviously, MVP is going to be best suited to family audiences for the most part.
By this point, Kevin Zegers was an experienced performer and had even been in other animal related movies, from Air Bud to Komodo. So he was a wise choice for the lead in MVP, as he knew the genre and was a familiar, popular presence in family friendly cinema, a natural fit. I don’t think anyone will be dazzled by his work here, but he does what the role requires and more, turning in a likable, fun performance that has a lot of energy and presence. And given some of the lackluster turns seen in similar movies, Zeger’s effort here seems even more solid. So he provides the anchor the movie needed and brings MVP up a notch or two, though of course, he is often upstaged by his primate costars. I also liked seeing Rick Ducommun here, as he is often a humorous part of any cast and that is the case here. His role isn’t a substantial one, but he adds some humor and is a welcome inclusion, to be sure. The cast also includes Philip Granger, Jamie Renee Smith, and Ingrid Tesch.
The Disc: This movie was released on DVD in a double feature with its sequel, Most Vertical Primate, via Mill Creek Entertainment. The transfer is solid and looks clean, with no real concerns to mention. The colors are bright and natural, contrast is smooth, and sharpness is fine, as far as DVD treatments are concerned. Both films are included on a single disc, which isn’t optimal of course, but I think MVP: Most Valuable Primate looks good in this release.