The corny but heartwarming monkey drama soaring on Netflix
(Credit: Netflix)

Film News

The corny but heartwarming monkey drama soaring on Netflix

There is just something about the bond between a person and their animal companion that never fails to warm the coldest cockles of the heart. This week, not one, but two films that celebrate this bond have soared to the top of Netflix film charts.

While Megan Leavy follows the extraordinary companionship between a marine and her K9 partner, Gigi & Nate tells the story of a disabled young man and his service animal, a capuchin monkey. It has climbed the ranks on Netflix’s top ten list in the UK, currently nestled at the tenth spot.

Directed by Nick Hamm and written by David Hudgins, Gigi & Nate is a 2022 coming-of-age drama. Loosely based on a real organisation that pairs monkeys with disabled individuals to offer assistance, the film takes viewers on an emotional journey through the lives of Nate Gibson and his capuchin companion, Gigi.

Nate’s life takes a drastic turn when he collapses at a Fourth of July party, leading to a diagnosis of meningitis and leaving him a quadriplegic. Battling depression and suicidal thoughts, Nate’s life receives a glimmer of hope when Claire, his mother, enlists the help of Cebus, an organisation training animals as service companions. Enter Gigi, a capuchin monkey with a troubled past who is rescued from a California petting zoo. Chaos ensues as the family pet dog chases the capuchin wreaking havoc through the house. But, things take an upswing for a while before obstacles raise their ugly heads again.

As Gigi gradually becomes a part of Nate’s life, their bond strengthens, and Gigi’s presence becomes instrumental in Nate’s rehabilitation journey. However, their newfound companionship faces challenges when local activists threaten to ban capuchins as service animals, leading to a battle for their right to stay together. 

Gigi & Nate indeed aims for heartwarming territory, but its execution veers toward a forest full of clichés and sentimentality. While the film attempts to explore the challenges faced by disabled individuals, it ultimately prioritises a saccharine happy ending over exploring any genuine emotional depth. The courtroom scenes, in particular, are contrived and rail the third act to further corniness.

But if you like clutching your pearls and cathartic crying over sentimental fluff, then tune into Gigi & Nate on Netflix. After all, it has a whopping 95 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes from audience ratings, as opposed to a paltry 19 per cent from critics. But first, catch the trailer here: