Gigi and Nate is the story of a young man’s recovery journey as a quadriplegic with the help of Gigi, an adorable capuchin monkey. It’s based on true events and shares how service animals can make a huge impact on healing from life-changing events.
Full disclosure, I did work background on this movie, and it’s always fun to see the final result of the hard work of the cast and crew. And of course, it’s great to catch a glimpse of my friends and I on screen.
We get a good look at Nate’s (Charlie Rowe) fun personality and family dynamic early in the movie. There’s a lot of shallow character development before his accident. A time jump takes us to a frustrated and hopeless Nate in a wheelchair before he meets Gigi. His mom (Marcia Gay Harden) is instrumental in seeking support and providing hope when others (including Nate) seem to have just accepted life as it is now.
When Gigi finally becomes part of the family, Nate is awkwardly curious and optimistic about her. I expected him to reject her help, but he gets this like magnetism about him that relishes in the “coolness” of having a monkey as a service animal. His frustrations with physical therapy continue and without coaxing, Gigi finally steps in for the assist. It’s an overly sentimental moment, but it’s also very sweet. If you’re not rolling your eyes, you’re dabbing away the tears. Cue the music montage with all the things she helps him do as he makes his way independently through town. Awww.
The CGI Gigi is a little tough to watch sometimes – but it’s still a cute story. Charlie Rowe is charming and Diane Ladd is a witty delight as vodka-drinking Mama Blanche. A couple of scenes with Nate’s mom and Dad (Jim Belushi) are very touching. I’m a huge fan of Hannah (Riley) Alligood from Better Things, so I was happy to see her shine.