The Jennie Project

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The Jennie Project
A chimpanzee in front of a chart of sign language hand positions
Promotional advertisement
Written by Douglas Preston
Charles Leavitt
Gary Nadeau
Directed by Gary Nadeau
Starring Lance Guest
Alex D. Linz
Sheila Kelley
Sheryl Lee Ralph
Abigail Mavity
Theme music composer Phil Marshall
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Charles Hirschhorn
Christopher Morgan
Editor(s) Richard Nord
Running time 76 minutes
Production company(s) Stu Segall Productions
Fountain Productions
Original network Disney Channel
Original release July 13, 2001 (2001-07-13)

The Jennie Project is a Disney Channel Original Movie that was released in the summer of 2001. The film was based on the book Jennie by Douglas Preston. The movie is about a chimpanzee who knows and uses American Sign Language to communicate.


Hugo Archibald (Lance Guest) is a doctor and brings home a wide variety of exotic animal species. The latest animal he brings home is a chimpanzee named Jennie. Dr. Archibald is not home very much, and Andrew, Dr. Archibald's son, feels he does not care about him.

His wife Lea (Sheila Kelley) does not want Jennie, and says she makes trouble, but the children take an instant liking to her. Jennie is unique in that she is learning to use and understand sign language.

Jennie becomes an important part of Archibald family and Andrew (Alex D. Linz) develops a close relationship with her. Jennie loves the things Andrew does, such as baseball and comic books.

Jennie is also there for Andrew when he and his father disagree. A doctor Pamela Prentiss (Sheryl Lee Ralph) starts training with Jennie. She does not agree with the way Jennie is being cared for and is seen as being rude to the Archibald family. She teaches Jennie sign language in a way that Jennie does not understand, but Lea finds a way she understands.

Dr. Prentiss tried to convince Hugo to admit Jennie in the science lab where she works, but Hugo declines, but when Jennie starts making trouble, such as taking all the mail from the mailman and eating the neighbors tulips, she is taken to court and admitted into a science lab.

Then they decide to return Jennie to Africa where she was found. The relationship between Jennie and Andrew eventually brings the whole family closer together.



The movie was filmed in San Diego's Balboa Park in areas resembling jungle. Other locations included the Museum of Man (where Hugo Archibald works) and the San Diego Zoo. The chimpanzee known in the film as Jennie was actually an animal borrowed for the film from the San Diego Zoo.

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