Entertainment


‘George Of The Jungle’ Goony, Loony, Funny

You don’t need to remember the “George of the Jungle” cartoon to enjoy the “George of the Jungle” movie.

George is a klutzy vine swinger (Brendan Fraser of “Encino Man”) who calls a stylized, deliberately fake-looking jungle world home. He meets up with an adventurous heiress (Leslie Mann) and her rich, obnoxious fiance (Thomas Haden Church), whose name is, of course, Lyle. Before long, the heiress is donning jungle garb and saying to Lyle, “Sarong. It’s been good to know you.”

“George of the Jungle” zips along on the clever, wise-guy humor we associate with the late Jay Ward, who created the “George” cartoon, as well as “Bullwinkle.” There’s the omniscient, smart-alecky narrator (“Meanwhile, at a big and expensive waterfall set … “), the smart-alecky African natives (when Church trips, one comments, “Ah! Bad guy’s head falls in poop. Classic element of physical comedy.”) and a general feeling that all the characters are aware they’re in a goony movie that gives them plenty of opportunities to fool around.

Fraser, showing an awful lot of thigh, gives an unself-consciously loopy performance, even when he has to deliver lines like, “This is nicest present George ever get” (the apes who raised him taught him English but apparently didn’t get into the use of determiners or the past tense). And the helium-voiced Mann resembles Melanie Griffith more than Melanie Griffith does. You can see why she would fall for George - he’s sweet, he’s uncomplicated, and he has washboard abs.

Both characters have lots of opportunity to interact with the ersatz jungle creatures (at one point, an ape teaches George how to flirt with a woman, except he teaches him the ape method: Bare your teeth, puff out your cheeks and bellow).

And, just when we’re about to tire of that stuff, the movie shifts to San Francisco, where George gets to swing - spectacularly - from the Golden Gate Bridge and where he learns that the snakes in the rain forest are nowhere near as dangerous as the ones in polite society (Holland Taylor is delicious as Mann’s socialite/commando mother).

A lot of credit for the consistency of the movie goes to director Sam Weisman. He keeps things goodnatured and broad-but-not-toobroad and, as a result, “George” is going to give parents and kids a major case of jungle fever.

MEMO: These 2 sidebars appeared with the story:

1. “George of the Jungle” Location: East Sprague, North Division, Coeur d’Alene Cinemas Credits: Directed by Sam Weisman, starring Brendan Fraser, Leslie Mann, Thomas Haden Church, Richard Roundtree, Greg Cruttwell, Abraham Benrubi, Holland Taylor, Kelly Miller, John Bennett Perry, John Cleese Running time: 1:32 Rating: PG

2. OTHER VIEWS Here’s what other critics say about “George of the Jungle:” Michael Wilmington/Chicago Tribune: “George of the Jungle” is a movie that makes you long for the old TV cartoon series on which it’s based… . It’s so overblown and empty it makes you wonder why anybody bothered with this version at all. Lawrence Van Gelder/New York Times: If “George of the Jungle” had any pretensions, it would be an easy movie to mock. But this airheaded comedy released under the Disney banner is so filled with slapstick humor, so willing to kid itself and so much a benign Jolly Roger in pirating surefire elements from its predecessors that it adds up to the kind of silly summer fun that gives family entertainment a good name. Jay Boyar/The Orlando Sentinel: Although I have never seen the (TV) series, I must assume that it was somewhat more entertaining than this stupefyingly dull-witted big-screen adaptation.

These 2 sidebars appeared with the story:

1. “George of the Jungle” Location: East Sprague, North Division, Coeur d’Alene Cinemas Credits: Directed by Sam Weisman, starring Brendan Fraser, Leslie Mann, Thomas Haden Church, Richard Roundtree, Greg Cruttwell, Abraham Benrubi, Holland Taylor, Kelly Miller, John Bennett Perry, John Cleese Running time: 1:32 Rating: PG

2. OTHER VIEWS Here’s what other critics say about “George of the Jungle:” Michael Wilmington/Chicago Tribune: “George of the Jungle” is a movie that makes you long for the old TV cartoon series on which it’s based… . It’s so overblown and empty it makes you wonder why anybody bothered with this version at all. Lawrence Van Gelder/New York Times: If “George of the Jungle” had any pretensions, it would be an easy movie to mock. But this airheaded comedy released under the Disney banner is so filled with slapstick humor, so willing to kid itself and so much a benign Jolly Roger in pirating surefire elements from its predecessors that it adds up to the kind of silly summer fun that gives family entertainment a good name. Jay Boyar/The Orlando Sentinel: Although I have never seen the (TV) series, I must assume that it was somewhat more entertaining than this stupefyingly dull-witted big-screen adaptation.



Click here to comment on this story »







Sections


Profile

Contact the Spokesman

Main switchboard:
(509) 459-5000
Customer service:
(509) 747-4422
Newsroom:
(509) 459-5400
(800) 789-0029
Back to Spokesman Mobile