pennebaker hegedus

What’s On TV Monday: ‘Unlocking the Cage

UNLOCKING THE CAGE (2016) 8 p.m. on HBO. Should animals be granted the same legal status as people? That question, and a sympathetic portrait of the animal-rights lawyer Steven Wise, are at the heart of this documentary directed by D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. “Unlocking the Cage” follows Mr. Wise as he makes the argument in court that, yes, animals — in this case, chimpanzees living in New York State in seemingly miserable conditions — deserve better treatment under the law. “There are codes and statutes governing the treatment of pets, livestock and other wild and domesticated creatures,” A. O. Scott wrote in The New York Times, “but in his view those fall short of acknowledging the full moral status of beings who feel pain, understand their surroundings and, as he puts it, possess ‘a theory of mind.’”

Unlocking the Cage” examines the legal rights of animals, while Daveed Diggs narrates a tale about young creatures navigating the wild.