I vaguely recall the publicity for this movie at the time, and it didn’t particularly interest me then. The concept of extraterrestrials reacting to an astronaut from Earth as an alien invasion plot turned inside out was moderately intriguing, but it didn’t particularly call out to me at the time. Animation outside of Disney and Pixar (and sometimes them as well) at the time struck a tone that didn’t really connect with me, and still doesn’t. But as that tone was almost obligatory for the market of the day, it was probably exaggerated in the advertisements and this has the potential to be more in line with what does appeal to me.
I didn’t even know that the astronaut is played by Dwayne Johnson. The character design even looks a little bit like a redheaded reimagining of Johnson, how his appearance (and race) would have to change to fit the classic image of space race NASA astronauts. Or I may just be very bad with faces.
One thing I recall about the circumstances of the George of the Jungle release was that it seemed to come out at about the same time as Disney’s Tarzan, but apparently this actually predates it by two years. Given what I know about animation production schedules, Tarzan was probably already in the works when they started on this, but just came out later. I now recall that it wasn’t until the direct to video sequel that they were able to reference Tarzan.
However, this was definitely part of a wave of Jay Ward cartoon adaptations made in the late 90s. As much as I like 2000’s The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (so much so that I did a redub of a sequence for college mainly because I thought there was a bad music decision that I wanted to fix. How did it go? Okay enough.) and Dudley Do-Right, I think this was the best of the bunch. Though it’s possible that’s just because I never saw any of the George of the Jungle cartoon, so I don’t know how badly it was changed. That didn’t stop me from loving the Inspector Gadget movie though.
Fabulously wealthy San Francisco heiress Ursula Stanhope has come to Burundi to explore the jungle, but is surprised when her equally rich but pompous fiance Lyle Van De Groot tracks her down and joins her expedition, insisting they should return home as soon as possible for the wedding. Lyle has been accompanied by two poachers who are after the White Ape, a legend of the Burundi jungle that could get them a fortune. In reality, the White Ape is actually George, a human who was lost in the jungle as a baby and raised by apes, and now is the King of the Jungle. When Lyle and Ursula are attacked by a lion, Lyle tries to abandon Ursula and run away, and George swings in to save her, bringing her back to his treehouse to help her recover from the shock. When Lyle and the poachers find Ursula and George’s treehouse, there’s an altercation that leads to Lyle accidentally shooting George, leading Ursula to bring him back to San Francisco for medical care. Having seen Lyle for the selfish coward that he is, next to the humble and gorgeous hero George, Ursula now finds herself with questions about her future, much to her status-obsessed parents’ chagrin.
Maybe this is again because I’m not familiar with the source material, but it still feels like this movie more naturally adapted to modern styles than the other cartoon movies I named above. It’s a cartoonish slapstick farce with a lot of self-aware commentary, sometimes even not delivered through the narrator, but it meshes with the 90s writing aesthetic somehow. George is a timeless klutzy hero, but Dudley is a relic of a different era, and Rocky and Bullwinkle spend their entire movie commenting on how they’re 30 years behind. The narration is really the only anachronism I can find in this movie, and the Narrator is a comic character in his own right.
There were things I was expecting in this movie that I guess I was remembering from the sequel. This is entirely in the jungle and in San Francisco (because the Americans won’t be interested if we don’t take the hero to America), except for a tag with Ape in Las Vegas, and I think I was remembering more scenes in other locations that are probably from the plot of that movie.
I still like this movie as much as I did then. The naked product placement was more noticeable now, but it didn’t bother me because it was often the joke. This is my favorite Brendan Fraser movie, and he did some great work in the 90s and 00s. George of the Jungle is a friend to you and me.
A downward spiral of comic misadventure concerning getting to an appointment on time. Pretty self-explanatory. Since John Cleese decided to be involved in it, I expect it won’t be entirely predictable, and he’ll at least turn in a funny performance.
Maybe it’s overkill to do two Python-adjacent movies in a row, but this has been kicking around on my list for a while and it attracted my interest this week.
This just sounds odd. It doesn’t help that all the summaries I’ve seen are one sentence long. As I recall, it runs something like Erik starts Ragnarok because he’s bored. That sounds like a two minute sketch. I don’t see how it can last as long as it does. But it’s Pythonesque, so I have to trust that it’s fun. Continue reading →
I’m fairly sure this is the movie I recall coming out at a time when I was too young to be interested in it, but I thought that it was a few years earlier, like 1997 or 98. Still, I definitely remember the title, nothing with that title came out in the 90s, and the summary is about what I remember.
I was surprised by the star-studded cast. Most of them are people I wouldn’t have heard of in 2001, but I know now are big names. I’m not sure if I knew any of them other than Whoopi Goldberg and Cuba Gooding Jr. at the time. I guess I knew of John Cleese and Rowan Atkinson, but I didn’t know they were in this movie.
I also just found out this is vaguely based on It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, which make sense, because it reminds me of “The Amazing Race” and that movie. Hopefully, it will have better pacing than “Mad World”, which dragged a bit at times from having to support so many characters and generally being long enough to be the only nonmusical film I know of with an intermission.
Often, one never realizes how little one knows about something until one has to describe it. I know this is a riotously funny movie with John Cleese. Possibly his first big thing after Fawlty Towers. I think I’ve heard something about some character’s fish friends. I did not know until I decided to watch it that it was about three crooks trying to find out where the captured fourth stashed the loot.
I almost called Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline up and comers, but while they’re younger and more current than Cleese and Michael Palin, I think they were actually pretty well established by the late 80s.