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Overall Rating

Awesome: 24.72%
Worth A Look44.94%
Just Average: 28.09%
Pretty Crappy: 2.25%
Sucks: 0%

7 reviews, 47 user ratings

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by EricDSnider

"Just be yourself and people will like you, you monkey-loving freak."
4 stars

It's a tradition: Every summer, Disney releases a new animated film with Broadway-style songs, a main character with missing parent or parents, wacky anthropomorphic sidekicks, and a moral-of-the-story ending that adds up to "Just be yourself and people will like you."

Except for its songs being more adult-contemporary than Broadway, "Tarzan" is no different.

Which is a good thing. The tried-and-true formula works for Disney, and the animation -- which gets better each year, and reaches its zenith with "Tarzan's" lush forests and fantastic action sequences -- gives the films an added degree of quality.

"Tarzan," based on the familiar Edgar Rice Borroughs stories, opens with a young married couple and their baby being shipwrecked on an island. A leopard kills the parents, somehow missing the baby, and an ape whose own baby was recently killed by the same leopard (the only leopard in the jungle, apparently) adopts the baby as her own.

That ape is named Kala (voice of Glenn Close), and she names the baby Tarzan (Tony Goldwyn). The leader of the ape group, Kerchak (Lance Henriksen), who might be Kala's husband and who also might just be the only male in the group (I don't pretend to understand primate society), doesn't want the boy there because he's different.

And there we have our theme: Tarzan is different from the others. He soon becomes every bit as agile and capable as his simian friends, surfing along tree branches and eating bananas like a pro, but he is bothered by his obvious dissimilarities. It's a metaphor for whatever you want it to be a metaphor for, and it's something everyone can relate to, as we've all felt like outsiders at some point in our lives.

Soon a pretty British girl named Jane (Minnie Driver) arrives, accompanied by her daft father (Nigel Hawthorne) and blood-thirsty guide Clayton (Brian Blessed). They want to find the gorillas in order to study them, except for Clayton, who wants to kill them, or put them on display, or eat them, or whatever.

(The movie isn't too concerned about what Clayton's plans are; suffice it to say, he's a HUNTER, and like all hunters in Disney cartoons, he's bad.)

Jane runs into Tarzan, and they begin to learn each other's language. She wants to meet his "family" in the interest of science, but Kerchak wisely advises Tarzan against it, sensing danger. Of course Tarzan does it anyway, Clayton tries to capture the primates, there's some heavy-duty gorilla warfare, and there's a "storybook" (i.e., impossible and impractical) ending.

The nutty sidekicks that have been the hallmark of Disney films are here, but their role is diminished. Rosie O'Donnell voices Turk, Tarzan's young ape pal, and Wayne Knight ("Seinfeld's" Newman) voices a worrisome elephant youth named Tantor. Much of the comic relief in the film, theirs included, is not especially funny. The film is not dark or somber; it just doesn't attempt comedy as much as you might expect, and what it does attempt often falls flat.

But it more than makes up for it in action. One sequence, in which the anatomically incorrect Tarzan rescues the equally-impossibly-shaped Jane from a herd of angry baboons and an ensuing series of calamities, is breath-takingly exciting -- almost as much as the light-saber duel in a certain new "Star Wars" film. The animation is seamless and fluid, and by the end of the scene, you may feel embarrassed at having felt so much tension over just a cartoon.

A few other scenes -- Tarzan's battle with the leopard, Clayton's attack on the gorilla nests -- are equally thrilling. I hesitate to call them "intense," because I think most kids could probably still handle them, but parents of especially young children (under 4) might want to be careful.

Phil Collins provides the songs that narrate the story, and unlike "The Lion King" and "Pocahontas," they do not distract. In fact, they rather admirably add to the jungle atmosphere of the film. Whereas previous films have had to interrupt their story-telling to include the songs (no matter how fun the songs were, they were still an interruption), "Tarzan" lets the action continue, without dialogue, and lets the music summarize the characters' feelings for us.

"Tarzan" is a pleasure to watch, full of excitement and fun, and not over-heavy on the sentiment. Say what you will about Disney's quality compared to years past; this one is a solid addition by any standards.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=819&reviewer=247
originally posted: 07/06/03 19:31:50
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User Comments

10/19/11 Magic A touching story about what constitutes family. Deep Canvas gets a work out here. 4 stars
4/02/09 Dominic CLAYTON reminds me of MERLOCK from DUCKTALES THE MOVIE and GASTON from BEAUTY & THE BEAST. 5 stars
11/16/08 Little Buddy This is Disney's best animated feature film since 1940's FANTASIA. 5 stars
10/30/08 Shaun Wallner Well made. 4 stars
9/10/08 Little Buddy Released after Mulan and Anastasia. 5 stars
7/03/08 Quigley Great Disney film with awesome action and rousing music. Not to be missed. 5 stars
2/03/08 johnnyfog Better than Pocahontas 3 stars
6/19/06 Herculade Superb animation, fast action, great character design. Weak ending though. 4 stars
7/13/05 Manasa Kanthi Nice movie for kids to enjoy, only the kids know than elders however fast action it has. 4 stars
5/12/04 Sean Scanlan Okay 3 stars
3/28/04 john another confused modern Disney film cashing in on the Disney brand name 2 stars
2/28/03 ME A GOOD FILM 5 stars
1/26/02 Andrew Carden Would Have Been Better As A Live-Action Movie...Too Confusing For Kids. 3 stars
4/09/01 Gary Good movie, but not top Disney material. 3 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla it would've been better if wasn't for those damn FAST action scenes that I didn't get. 4 stars
10/27/00 viking Better than some live action versions I've seen 4 stars
6/22/00 Michael Grimm awesome movie, my favorite disney flick since Aladdin 5 stars
3/26/00 Richard Wright Superb animation and good humour can't quite redeem a by-the-numbers plot and dire music. 3 stars
3/18/00 Jed Good disney fare although villian is underdeveloped. 4 stars
11/28/99 Crystal Fleming Loved it 5 stars
11/06/99 Faith Andrew I loved this movie. I laughed and cried and had my breath taken away on many occasions 5 stars
10/02/99 Britney Awesome movie! Great soundtrack! 5 stars
9/19/99 Weird Andy Disney continues to mind-rape America's kinder. 2 stars
9/06/99 Kenya Another classic story with same old Disney sap. Nice animation, though. 3 stars
8/20/99 Noreen Totally absorbing and beautiful. Though more of a 4 1/2 than a 5. 5 stars
8/18/99 Geoff Finally! Disney's back on track. 5 stars
8/03/99 dbx When the silverback got shot i had to stop myself from shouting all too easy. 4 stars
7/28/99 PhilmPhreak Good Disney fare 4 stars
7/26/99 claire disney did it again. a must-see. 5 stars
7/16/99 buddy Beautiful!! Best film of the year so far. 5 stars
7/13/99 bridgette decent. tarzan was rather repulsive looking though 4 stars
7/10/99 Freyja Beautiful to look at and a great story. Right up there with The Lion King. 5 stars
7/06/99 iyu An Incredible, beautiful achievement. 5 stars
7/05/99 jlgallardo Great animation,except for the faces of Tarzan & Jane. 4 stars
7/01/99 Elizaveta I was actually...touched. ugh, get rid of O'Donnell 4 stars
6/27/99 The Graduate Surprisingly moving, with very dimensional characters. 5 stars
6/21/99 Negative Creep 6 ONSCREEN DEATHS! A DISNEY RECORD. Too bad the death toll didnt include Rosie O'Donnell! 4 stars
6/20/99 Ah Dooey not too bad 5 stars
6/20/99 Melissa Simply breathtaking. Disney has done it again. 5 stars
6/19/99 j.b. This movie looks great. It's a typical disney movie. 4 stars
6/18/99 Mr Showbiz The script is a rote rehash of all the standard Disney elements. 3 stars
6/17/99 Christina Disney's best animated feature since the lion king. 5 stars
6/14/99 Mr Variety Disney’s Tarzan swings, even if it doesn't always soar. 4 stars
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  18-Jun-1999 (G)
  DVD: 18-Oct-2005


  09-Sep-1999 (PG)

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