MVP: Most Valuable Primate
|MVP: Most Valuable Primate|
|Directed by||Robert Vince|
|Produced by||Ian Fodie
|Written by||Anne Vince
|Music by||Brian 'Hoot' Gibson
|Edited by||Kelly Herron|
|Distributed by||Keystone Family Pictures|
MVP: Most Valuable Primate is a 2000 feature film that sparked the MVP franchise. The film's title character, Jack, is a chimpanzee.
The plot revolves around an ape playing sports. Jack, a three-year-old chimpanzee, is the subject of an experiment involving sign language performed by Dr. Kendall at San Pueblo University in San Diego, California. However, Dr. Kendall loses funding for his research. Kendall arranges for Jack to return to his original home in a California nature preserve, but unfortunately dies before the transaction is completed and Kendall's boss, Dr. Peabody, sells Jack to the University of Tennessee. Meanwhile, the Westover family has just moved to Nelson, British Columbia. Steven, the son, was the leading scorer on his high school hockey team in California and joins the local junior B team, the Nuggets; he is surprised, however, by the violence of the play and the apathy of his teammates to their constant losing. His sister, Tara, who is deaf, is having a hard time making friends at her new school. Meanwhile, hearing rumours that the University of Tennessee is performing Hepatitis tests on primates, a maintenance worker at San Pueblo Jack's arranges for Jack to return to the nature preserve as originally planned; however, Jack falls asleep on the train and ends up in Nelson instead. Jack finds shelter in Tara's tree house but ends up surprising Tara when she enters, causing her to faint; when Tara wakes up she learns he can use sign language. She attempts to hide Jack from her parents and Steven but is unsuccessful. Steven soon discovers that Jack has an uncanny ability to play the sport of ice hockey and Jack joins Steven on the Nuggets after the coach convinces the league's owners that a chimpanzee player would bring in a massive increase in ticket sales. Jack instantly brings the Nuggets on-ice success and also helps Tara to become closer to her classmates. Eventually, the Nuggets become the champions of junior B, qualifying for the Harvest Cup final in Vancouver. During the game, Peabody appears at the arena, demanding to take Jack from the team; the team refuses to give him up, so Peabody makes a plan to take him after the game. Tara is able to figure out Peabody's plan, and alerts Steven and the team; Steven takes Jack away from the arena during the second intermission in order to send him home to the nature preserve, and Tara, being a similar size to Jack, puts on Jack's gear and jersey, ends up scoring the game-winning goal and stops Peabody from taking Jack, who makes his way to the preserve.
The movie generated one theater-released sequel and one direct-to-video sequel. In each film, Jack learns to play a different sport.
The following is a list of the films in the series:
- MVP: Most Valuable Primate (2000)
- MVP 2: Most Vertical Primate (2001)
- MXP: Most Xtreme Primate (2003)
- Russell Ferrier – Darren
- Lomax Study – Dr. Kendall
- Kevin Zegers – Steven Westover
- Jamie Renée Smith – Tara Westover
- Alexa Fox – Jane
- Jane Sowerby – Julie Beston
- Ingrid Tesch – Susie Westover
- Philip Granger – Mark Westover
- Rick Ducommon – Coach Marlow
- Bernie, Mack, and Louie – Jack
- Oliver Muirhead – Dr. Peabody
MVP was the working title of the 1997 film Air Bud, but the subtitle was Most Valuable Pooch, not Most Valuable Primate. Air Bud shares the same producers and they both star Kevin Zegers. Both films feature similar plots about an animal who can play sports, and they each spawned a number of sequels in which the title animal plays a different sport in each.
The film received mixed to negative reviews. It currently holds a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, indicating "Rotten".