George of the Jungle (film)
|George of the Jungle|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sam Weisman|
|Produced by||David Hoberman
|Screenplay by||Dana Olsen
|Story by||Dana Olsen|
|Based on||George of the Jungle
by Jay Ward
Thomas Haden Church
John Bennett Perry
|Narrated by||Keith Scott|
|Music by||Marc Shaiman|
|Cinematography||Thomas E. Ackerman|
|Edited by||Kent Beyda
|Walt Disney Pictures
Jay Ward Productions
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Running time||92 minutes|
George of the Jungle is a 1997 American live-action film adaptation of the cartoon of the same name. The film was produced by Walt Disney Pictures with Mandeville Films and originally released to movie theatres on July 16, 1997. Since it's initial theatrical run, it has gained a cult following. It stars Brendan Fraser as the eponymous main character, a primitive man who was raised by animals in an African jungle; Leslie Mann as his wealthy American love interest; and Thomas Haden Church as her treacherous fiancé.
The film begins with an animated introduction featuring a plane heading toward "the Heart of Africa" (more specifically, a region called "Bukuvu"). The plane crashes and George, an infant, is lost, but enjoys vine swinging and crashing into trees as a running gag. Over 25 years, George (Brendan Fraser) is a Tarzan-like man, the "King of the Jungle," & is often mistaken for "the White Ape," -- a legendary beast said to be a huge, super-strong primate, -- who rules the surrounding jungle. His friends include a sophisticated talking gorilla named Ape (voiced by John Cleese); along with a toco toucan named Tookie, a small capuchin monkey named Little Monkey, and an African elephant named Shep, whom he calls his "dog" (all voiced by Frank Welker).
The film then pans over to live action when heiress Ursula Stanhope (Leslie Mann) explores the jungle near George's home one day with the help of her guide, Mr. Kwame (Richard Roundtree) and some native porters: N'Dugo (Michael Chinyamurindi), Kip (Abdoulaye N'Gom), & Baleto (Lydell M. Cheshier). She has traveled to Africa alone, but she is joined by her wealthy fiancé Lyle Van De Groot (Thomas Haden Church) who has found her with the help of Max and Thor (Greg Cruttwell and Abraham Benrubi respectively), two dopey poachers who are posing as trackers. That evening, Mr. Kwame recounts the legend of the White Ape.
The next day, Lyle almost causes the death of N'Dugo, and he abandons Ursula when the two of them are attacked by a lion. George saves Ursula and takes her to his treehouse home (albeit unconscious), and Lyle returns to the camp, claiming to have been attacked by the White Ape. While the exploration party searches for Ursula, George entertains her and teaches her to swing on vines. He also falls in love with her, so Ape advises him to woo her by making faces and beating his chest, as gorillas do. This fails to impress Ursula, but George wins her over with his charm, (& his "sensual intelligence") and they enjoy an evening of dancing around a campfire.
On the third day, the explorers discover George's treehouse, Lyle accidentally discharges his weapon and George gets shot in the head (because N'Dugo switched his pistol lighter for an actual gun) as George tries to prevent Max and Thor from shooting Ape with a tranquilizer gun. Seeing this happen, both Ape and Ursula scream in terror, (George survives since according to the narrator, "he's the hero;" that &, "nobody dies this story; they just get really big boo-boos"). While Lyle is arrested for the shooting (and called 'a big doofus' by the narrator), Ursula flies George to her home in San Francisco for medical treatment and buys clothes for him. George explores the city and saves a paraglider's life. With George's help, Ursula finds the courage to tell her parents that she no longer wants to marry Lyle, but her overbearing mother Beatrice Stanhope (Holland Taylor), who is intent on marrying her to a man of wealth and prestige, threatens George to give Ursula up or she would "remove his reason for wearing a loincloth".
Meanwhile, Max and Thor (who haven't left Africa, despite being deported) capture Ape, knowing that he can speak. Ape manages to send Tookie to San Francisco to ask George for help. When Tookie finds George, George returns to Africa to save Ape, and after realizing that she loves George, Ursula follows. While the poachers are fighting with the narrator at the treehouse, with Ape in a cage, George finds them and he defeats them after an extended battle, with help from Ursula and his animal family. However, Lyle appears and it looks like he is no longer in prison and has joined a marriage cult. He kidnaps Ursula with help from several mercenaries associated with the cult. Lyle intends to marry himself to Ursula immediately. After escaping the mercenaries with help from his gorilla friends, George chases Lyle and Ursula as they float into some river rapids on a raft. George makes a super fast swing that sends him crashing into a tree so hard that he groans "George not feel so good." He then saves Ursula while Lyle enters a dark tunnel. After performing his wedding ceremony and exiting the tunnel, Lyle discovers that he has just married a gorilla. After professing their love for each other, George and Ursula have their wedding one full moon, and ride off on Shep. They eventually have a son and present him to the animals of the jungle in a manner similar to that which involves Pride Rock.
A little later, during the ending credits, Ape orders the credits to stop and reveals to the audience on his fate: he becomes a big singing star in Las Vegas. He is seen singing the Frank Sinatra song "My Way", with Thor and Max as background staff; they play as a coconut tree.
- Brendan Fraser as George, a strapping young man with long hair who was raised in the jungle like Tarzan and frequently crashes into trees while swinging on vines.
- Leslie Mann as Ursula Stanhope, a wealthy heiress.
- Thomas Haden Church as Lyle van de Groot, Ursula's wealthy, despicable fiancé.
- Greg Cruttwell as Max, a poacher and tracker that works for Lyle.
- Abraham Benrubi as Thor, a poacher and tracker that works for Lyle and wears black leather.
- John Bennett Perry as Arthur Stanhope, Ursula's father.
- Holland Taylor as Beatrice Stanhope, Ursula's mother.
- Kelly Miller as Betsy, Ursula's friend.
- Richard Roundtree as Mr. Kwame, Ursula's jungle guide & friend, who works alongside The Porters.
- The Porters -- a "Three Caballeros/Three Amigos-like" group of porters, all of whom have a strong dislike for Lyle, each for reasons both alike & different.
- Michael Chinyamurindi as N'Dugo, Ursula's friend and African tour guide & one of The Porters, (as well as the de facto leader). He is slender & tall, & like Baleto, he is bald. He dislikes Lyle for the mistreatment of the porters as much as the other porters do, but unlike Kip & Baleto, N'Dugo also dislikes him for almost getting the porter killed.
- Abdoulaye N'Gom as Kip, Ursula's friend and an African tour guide & another of The Porters. He dislikes Lyle for the mistreatment of the porters as much as the other porters do. He is the only tour guide with hair.
- Lydell M. Cheshier as Baleto, Ursula's friend and the third African tour guide & porter. He is stout and a bit clumsy, & like N'Dugo, he is bald. He dislikes Lyle as much as the other porters do, but unlike Kip & N'Dugo, Baleto also dislikes him for riding the big porter like a pack mule.
- John Cleese as Ape, a well-educated talking Gorilla. He later reveals to the audience (during the credits) that he became a major singing star.
- Keith Scott as Narrator
- Frank Welker as Lion, Little Monkey, Shep, Tooki Tooki Bird, and Gorilla sound effects
Gorilla Suit Performers
- Nameer Ed-Kadi - Ape (body)
- Robert Tygner - Ape (facial puppetry)
- Tom Fisher (puppeteer)
- Jody St. Michael
- Philip Tan
- Lief Tilden
In the opening animated sequence, various animals swing on vines with young George, his "dog" Shep fetches a crocodile instead of a log, and a wildebeest falls in love with a bushman wearing a wildebeest mask.
In the live action film, a whole host of animals are seen. George fights with a lion, accidentally swings on a snake instead of a vine, rides an elephant, talks to a bird, and lives with various monkeys and apes.
The lion, elephant, and bird scenes were all filmed with a mix of real animals, puppetry (especially for the lion fight), and CGI (to show the elephant acting like a dog). The scenes with the orangutan, a chimpanzee, and the capuchin monkeys were filmed with live animals, but some computer work was used in a scene wherein the little monkey imitates George.
Track #2, the Johnny Clegg song "Dela", also features the first few bars of the original George of the Jungle theme song.
- "George of the Jungle" (Sheldon Allman, Stanley Worth) - 2:53 - Presidents of the United States of America
- "Dela (I Know Why the Dog Howls at the Moon)" (Johnny Clegg) - 4:16 - Johnny Clegg & Savuka
- "Wipe Out" (Jim Fuller, Berryhill, Patrick Connolly, Ron Wilson) - 2:39 - The Surfaris
- "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" (Traditional) - 0:57 - Roger Freeland, Jon Joyce, Steve Lively, Gary Stockdale
- "My Way" (Paul Anka, Jacques Revaux, Claude François, Gilles Thibault) - 1:11 - John Cleese
- "Aba Daba Honeymoon" (Walter Donovan, Arthur Fields) - 1:55 - Karen Harper
- "George of the Jungle" (Allman, Worth) - 1:03 - "Weird Al" Yankovic
- "Go Ape [The Dance Mix]" (Michael Becker) - 3:25 - Michael Becker
- "Jungle Band" (Michael Becker) - 3:18 - Carl Graves
- "George to the Rescue" - 1:11
- "Rumble in the Jungle" - 3:15
- "The Little Monkey" - 2:23
- "George of the Jungle [Main Title Movie Mix]" (Marc Shaiman) - 2:20
The film received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 56% from 52 critics with an average rating of 5.3/10. The consensus states: "George of the Jungle is faithful to its source material -- which, unfortunately, makes it a less-than-compelling feature film". Roger Ebert awarded the movie three out of four stars praising the film as "good-natured" and complimenting the cast's comedic performances.
- Eller, Claudia (1997-08-12). "COMPANY TOWN; The Heat Was On; Sun Shines on Studios This Summer After All". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
- "GEORGE, GEORGE, GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE A TREE-SWINGING BRENDAN FRASER ENJOYED PUN AND GAMES OF MAKING NEW DISNEY FILM". Morning Call. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
- Movie Review - George Of The Jungle
- "George Of The Jungle". Chicago Sun-Times.
- "George Of The Jungle' Debut Can't Swing Past 'Men In Black". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
- Official website
- George of the Jungle at the Internet Movie Database
- George of the Jungle at Box Office Mojo
- George of the Jungle at Rotten Tomatoes