Though released at the same time in cinemas, Project Nim would actually make a perfect extra for the DVD of Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
With their events so closely mirrored, the former would benefit by reaching a blockbuster audience, while the outward daftness of the latter would gain some serious perspective.
In 1973, Professor Herb Terrace stirred up the world of behavioural psychology by snatching a newborn chimp from his mother and thrusting him into the bosom of a research assistant and her family.
The idea was to see if apes could learn to live and communicate as humans, given a structured environment. So you'd think that having Nim run wild amongst a family of hippies might defeat the object. Thankfully, monkey science is not rocket science.
Passed from one teacher / researcher / surrogate parent to the next, Nim had no problem in picking up sign language and expanding his vocabulary. But you don't need language to express joy, sadness, sorrow, tenderness or displeasure.
As he grew older, stronger and hornier, Nim became increasingly hard to handle. By which time, many believed he was only doing what came naturally. Basically, anything for self-gratification.
The love for Nim is obvious. But with one guy plying him with booze and weed and Professor Herb seemingly unable to keep relationships with his many female assistants on a professional level, no wonder the poor chimp turned out so confused.
One act of aggression too many and the project was over. There were many trials and tribulations to come for Nim. His case nearly made it to the Supreme Court (though not the one for poodle-slaughter) but only after years of loneliness did his life improve.
Intriguing yet ineffably sad, what emerges is not the story of an ape who failed to be human, but a story of human failings.