GIGI & NATE is a feel-good movie inspired by a true story! It’s about a young man who is newly quadriplegic and void of all hope for his future, until an unlikely animal friend helps him learn to live again. See it in theaters starting on September 2nd!
GIGI & NATE stars Charlie Rowe, Marcia Gay Harden, Josephine Langford, Zoe Colleti, Hannah Alligood, Sasha Compère, Mishel Prada, Emilio Garcia Sanchez, Olly Sholotan, Jim Belushi, and Diane Ladd.
A lot of local extras got to take part in the movie, too, which was nice. The credits state: “GIGI & NATE is dedicated to all those with disabilities and a special thank you to the men, women and children, including disabled veterans from North Carolina, who participated in the film.”
Nate Gibson is enjoying his summer vacation before going off to college, when his life suddenly changes forever. A near-fatal turn of events paralyzes him from the neck down, leaving him feeling helpless and hopeless.
Nate’s dad is frequently gone away on business so his dynamic and resilient mother is the foundation of the family. As her son grapples with his new normal, she puts her career as an artist on hold to care for him.
They sell their cabin on the lake to build a handicap accessible bedroom addition for Nate. His room is amazing! It’s all decked out in the latest disability assistive equipment, and we even get a glimpse into his physical therapy sessions.
However, Nate is severely depressed and nothing seems to be making a difference in his progress. That is, until his mom puts in a request for a service animal. Her son is given a curious and intelligent capuchin monkey named Gigi.
While the monkey is trained to assist Nate with his basic needs, Gigi helps Nate find what he needs most of all: hope. As his new found animal companion brings love and laughter to the family, Nate discovers that his life is still very much worth living.
However, apparently not everyone can appreciate the special relationship between a boy and his support animal. There always have to be meddlesome people who come along and spoil everything!
Nate finally overcomes one challenge only to be faced with another…
A major theme in this movie is dealing with unexpected challenges and making the most of an unfortunate situation.
Charlie Rowe, the actor who played Nate, said “As much as this is about a monkey and this kid, I think it’s about overcoming difficulties and things that you think are impossible that you’ll never come back from.”
The good news is, even if everything seems hopelessly bad at first, perseverance pays off in the long run. So hang in there and don’t give up!
“This film is about hope and accomplishment, even in times of disaster and deepest despair,” said director Nick Hamm. “I’ve been utterly inspired by the people at the heart of this true story and the film is a tribute to their resilience, ingenuity and strength of character. It’s a narrative of our times, encapsulating the feelings of hope and positivity coming out of adversity and what families can achieve, together.”
Marie-Christine Jaeger-Firmenich of Fondation Robmar is the Executive Producer of GIGI & NATE. The Robmar Foundation is a non-profit organization in Switzerland that conducts research and supports projects based on the human-animal bond. Studies show that human-animal interaction can have a profound and positive influence on people, particularly those who are sick, disabled or injured.
It’s unclear which real-life monkey-human pairing inspired GIGI & NATE, but from 1979 to 2020 a group called Helping Hands (acknowledged in the end credits) paired monkeys with people with disabilities. The monkeys, often the super-intelligent capuchin species, bonded with their humans and became their helpers in sort of a symbiotic relationship.
It seems like a no-brainer to use capuchin monkeys as service animals. These monkeys can help paraplegics and quadriplegics perform all kinds of tasks in return for love, care, and a jar of peanut butter. They have a long lifespan, they’re small in size, and their dexterity allows them to perform many tasks that dogs can’t.
However, the Americans with Disabilities Act only recognizes dogs and miniature horses as service animals, while the U.S. Department of Transportation prohibits monkeys on planes. Many states don’t allow primates in home environments, and I’m sure PETA’s history of strong arm tactics against primate owners doesn’t help matters either.
Sure, technology has come a long way and there are many assistive devices available to help people with disabilities lead normal lives. But nothing can beat the warm and loving bond between a person and another living creature. You can’t hug and snuggle with a robot!
GIGI & NATE is not a faith-based film per se, although the family does pray at the dinner table. This family drama is rated PG-13 for some thematic material and language. A mother and father get into an argument and say some things they later regret. A boy lies so he can sneak out to go to a party where young people are drinking. Protestors toss buckets of red paint that looks like blood. There is an attempted suicide. The few minor swear words are hardly noticeable, with the exception of grandma loudly saying “sh*t” which took me by surprise. (At least no one takes God’s name in vain.)
GIGI & NATE is a beautifully filmed movie with a refreshing storyline that ends on a positive note. The tragic yet comedic adventures of GIGI & NATE will touch viewers and inspire them to see the world in a whole new way.
The viewing experience itself was a roller coaster of emotions. It was heartbreaking to witness the personal tragedy that took place in Nate’s life. It was endearing to watch the relationship develop between him and his monkey. It was infuriating to see that lady harassing Nate and his family. It was sad to see Gigi taken away from him. Thankfully, the film had a happy ending!
Overall, the film conveys an encouraging message of optimism, hope, and finding silver linings in dark clouds. This is exactly the kind of heartwarming movie we need these days to lift our spirits!
The runtime is 1h 54m.
Buy your tickets TODAY to see GIGI & NATE in theaters starting 9/2/22!
Official Website: https://www.gigiandnate.com
Disclosure: Many thanks to Roadside Attractions for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own.
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