Rick Heller is a juvenile delinquent who continues to get himself into trouble. To keep him out of mischief, his mother, Margaret, puts him to work cleaning the cage of a female gorilla named Katie. Margaret is teaching Katie to communicate through the use of sign language. When the owner of the gorilla, Gus Charnley, takes her away to become a flea market freak, Rick decides to rescue Katie and take her on an adventurous journey to get her out of the country.
Peter Stack of the San Francisco Chronicle said the animatronic gorilla looked phony, but concluded "The film has its moments of nutty fun" and "it also has a couple of touching scenes—if you can get beyond that bogus ape look."Washington Post critic Rita Kempley called it "a heart-yanking family yarn that resembles a simian adaptation of Nell" and also compared the movie to Free Willy.