George of the Jungle (film)

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George of the Jungle
George Of The Jungle.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sam Weisman
Produced by David Hoberman
Jordan Kerner
Jon Avnet
Screenplay by Dana Olsen
Audrey Wells
Story by Dana Olsen
Based on George of the Jungle 
by Jay Ward
Starring Brendan Fraser
Leslie Mann
Thomas Haden Church
Holland Taylor
John Bennett Perry
Richard Roundtree
John Cleese
Narrated by Keith Scott
Music by Marc Shaiman
Cinematography Thomas E. Ackerman
Edited by Kent Beyda
Roger Bondelli
Stuart Pappé
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • July 16, 1997 (1997-07-16)
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $55 million[1]
Box office $174.4 million

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. 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 love interest; and Thomas Haden Church as her treacherous fiancé.

A direct-to-video sequel, George of the Jungle 2, was released on DVD in 2003, however only three of the original actors (Thomas Haden Church, John Cleese, and Keith Scott) returned for the sequel.


Ursula Stanhope, a San Francisco heiress, tours Central Africa with local guide Kwame and a trio of porters Kip, N’Dugo, and Baleto. Ursula is joined by her fiancé, Lyle Van De Groot, who tracked her down with help from two poachers Max and Thor. Lyle intends on whisking Ursula home to marry her, but his pompous buffoonery irritates the porters, particularly when he nearly kills one by shaking a rope bridge. Kwame tells Ursula of the legend of the “White Ape”, said to be a superhuman primate who rules the local jungle.

The next day, Lyle tries to drag Ursula away but they are attacked by a lion. Lyle tries to flee but knocks himself out. Ursula is rescued by the legendary White Ape, revealed to be a Tarzan-like man named George, who is child-like and has a habit of crashing into trees when swinging on vines.

George takes Ursula to his treehouse home, where she meets his extensive family of apes, including an intelligent talking gorilla named Ape. Tarzan also has an African elephant named Shep who he treats like a dog, a toco toucan named Tookie who provides gossip, and Little Monkey, emotional capuchin monkey. Meanwhile, Lyle, Max, Thor, and the porters search for Ursula. George befriends Ursula, teaching her how to swing on vines, and tries to woo her following Ape’s advice to do so in the manner that a gorilla would. However, he then charms her with a dance around a campfire.

Lyle, Max, and Thor discover George’s treehouse, and Lyle accidentally shoots George with a firearm he mistook for a novelty lighter. While Lyle is arrested, Ursula flies George back to San Francisco to get him medical treatment. George explores the city and rescues a paraglider on the Bay Bridge. Ursula, uninterested in marrying Lyle, admits the truth to her parents, but her overbearing mother Beatrice objects, wanting her to marry the wealthy Lyle. At a party, Beatrice takes George aside and tells him to give up Ursula for her own sake. In Africa, Max and Thor capture Ape with the intention on using him to make money. Tookie is sent to retrieve George, and they return to rescue Ape. Ursula realises she loves George and departs to follow him with her father Arthur’s blessing.

Ape tricks the poachers into circling the jungle and returning to the treehouse where George confronts them. Ursula and George’s animal family aid him in defeating the poachers. However, Lyle appears, having escaped jail, joined a cult, and is now a wedding minister, intending on forcing Ursula into marriage and has George captured by mercenaries. George escapes with help from his ape friends, and pursues Ursula and Lyle down river rapids, successfully rescuing Ursula by performing the “biggest swing in jungle history”. Lyle enters a dark cave, believing Ursula is still in the life raft, and ends up wedding a female gorilla. After professing their love to each other, George and Ursula wed in Africa, later have a son, who they present to the animals from atop Pride Rock.

In a post-credits scene, Ape reveals he has become a famous entertainer in Las Vegas, using Max and Thor as stunt men.


  • Brendan Fraser as George, a young man who was raised in the jungle like Tarzan and frequently crashes into trees while swinging on vines.[2]
  • Leslie Mann as Ursula Stanhope, a wealthy heiress
  • Thomas Haden Church as Lyle van de Groot, Ursula's wealthy, despicable fiancé
  • Richard Roundtree as Kwame, Ursula's jungle guide
  • Greg Cruttwell as Max, a poacher and tracker who works for Lyle
  • Abraham Benrubi as Thor, a poacher and tracker who works for Lyle
  • John Bennett Perry as Arthur Stanhope, Ursula's father
  • Holland Taylor as Beatrice Stanhope, Ursula's mother
  • Kelly Miller as Betsy, Ursula's friend
  • Abdoulaye N'Gom as Kip, Ursula's friend and an African tour guide.
  • Michael Chinyamurindi as N'Dugo, Ursula's friend and another African tour guide.
  • Lydell M. Cheshier as Baleto, Ursula's friend and the third African tour guide.


Gorilla Suit Performers[edit]


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.

The large gorillas who live with George were all costumed actors or animatronic figures with the gorilla suits provided by Jim Henson's Creature Shop.

In the "Pride Rock" scene, when George presents his son to the animals, CGI work is again used.[3]


Track #2, the Johnny Clegg song "Dela", also features the first few bars of the original George of the Jungle theme song.

  1. "George of the Jungle" (Sheldon Allman, Stanley Worth) - 2:53 - Presidents of the United States of America
  2. "Dela (I Know Why the Dog Howls at the Moon)" (Johnny Clegg) - 4:16 - Johnny Clegg & Savuka
  3. "Wipe Out" (Jim Fuller, Berryhill, Patrick Connolly, Ron Wilson) - 2:39 - The Surfaris
  4. "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" (Traditional) - 0:57 - Roger Freeland, Jon Joyce, Steve Lively, Gary Stockdale
  5. "My Way" (Paul Anka, Jacques Revaux, Claude François, Gilles Thibault) - 1:11 - John Cleese
  6. "Aba Daba Honeymoon" (Walter Donovan, Arthur Fields) - 1:55 - Karen Harper
  7. "George of the Jungle" (Allman, Worth) - 1:03 - "Weird Al" Yankovic
  8. "Go Ape [The Dance Mix]" (Michael Becker) - 3:25 - Michael Becker
  9. "Jungle Band" (Michael Becker) - 3:18 - Carl Graves
  10. "George to the Rescue" - 1:11
  11. "Rumble in the Jungle" - 3:15
  12. "The Little Monkey" - 2:23
  13. "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.[4]

Box office[edit]

The movie debuted at No. 2 at the box office behind Men in Black, and eventually went on to become a box office success, grossing $174.4 million worldwide.[5]


The movie was followed by a direct-to-video sequel, George of the Jungle 2, which picks up five years after the original. Most of the major characters are re-cast using different actors, although both Thomas Haden Church and John Cleese reprise their roles from the original.


External links[edit]