Buddy (1997 film)


Canadian Theatrical release poster
Directed by Caroline Thompson
Produced by Fred Fuchs
Steve Nicolaides
Screenplay by Caroline Thompson
Story by William Joyce
Caroline Thompson
Based on Animals Are My Hobby
by Gertrude Davies Lintz
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography Steve Mason
Edited by Jonathan Shaw
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • June 6, 1997 (1997-06-06) (North America)
  • May 23, 1997 (1997-05-23) (New Zealand)
Running time
84 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $19 million
Box office $10,113,400

Buddy is a 1997 New Zealand/American film directed by Caroline Thompson and produced by Columbia Pictures with help from Jim Henson Pictures. It starred Rene Russo as Mrs. Gertrude 'Trudy' Lintz and Robbie Coltrane as her husband.

The film was based on the life of a gorilla called Massa with elements of Gertrude Lintz's other gorilla Gargantua (who was called "Buddy" at the time). In real life, Massa became the oldest gorilla on record until 2008, while Buddy/Gargantua died young as a circus attraction and his remains are now on display in a museum.

The gorilla suit used for Buddy was created by Jim Henson's Creature Shop.


Millionaire animal lover and overall spoiled rich girl Trudy (Rene Russo) adds Buddy, a gorilla, to her family. Buddy finds life in the city very difficult to deal with. Although Trudy raises him as her own son in her mansion (which also houses a few comical chimpanzees, a kitten, a horse, a cheeky, talking green parrot, her prize-winning champion pack of Briards, a raccoon and a flock of geese), he becomes hard to control due to his strength. A particularly bad experience in the Chicago World's Fair makes things even harder for Buddy. After he goes on an aggressive rampage and nearly destroys Trudy's home, Buddy is taken to an ape sanctuary to live among his own kind in peace.


Dane Cook cameos as a cop at the Chicago World's Fair.

Buddy operated by Peter Elliott (adult Buddy), Lynn Robertson Bruce (juvenile Buddy), Peter Hurst, Mark Sealey (toddler Buddy), Michelan Sisti, Leif Tilden, Star Townsend, Robert Tygner, and Mak Wilson (facial controls)

Buddy's vocal effects provided by Hector C. Gika, Gary A. Hecker, and Frank Welker.

Production notes

Rene Russo began rehearsals with the chimpanzees a month before principal photography even started.


In spite of the film's message, animal activists still objected over the depiction of chimpanzees as docile pets, happily carrying on wearing human clothes. Among their concerns, the perpetuation of the idea of chimps as acceptable pets is often cited.

Buddy received negative reviews from critics, as it holds a 25% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 20 reviews. The film was criticized for its unrealistic animatronics, especially when compared to the real ape performers.


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