Tarzan (1999) Movie Review

Tarzan the Ape Man gets the Disney treatment this year. For some classic characters (Snow White, Bambi), the transition has been a positive one. For others (Pocahontas), it's been a disaster. Thankfully, Tarzan is among the former group.

The last time we saw Tarzan, he was saving a Lost City in the worst film of 1998 (shockingly titled Tarzan and the Lost City). The story is a bit more traditional this time, with Tarzan adopted by gorillas after his human parents are killed by a leopard. When he grows up, a group of British explorers stumble upon him, and after the "You Tarzan, me Jane" exchange, the British bad guy, Clayton, decides he's going to take all the gorillas back to Britain for sale. Adventure ensues, along with a love story and singing.

For an animated Disney plot, it's considerably better than recent fare. In fact, it might be too good - the kids in our audience were more often found cowering in the aisles than watching the picture from their seats. Be aware that Tarzan has its share of adult moments (including a hanging, seen in shadow) - more than I'd thought appropriate. The animation is top-notch, of course, and most of that will be wasted on the youngsters, too.

Tarzan is also (thankfully--most thankfully) light on the musical numbers. There's only one song performed by the characters, when the gorillas take over the human camp and do a rendition of "Stomp." The rest of the music is all in the background, fairly well done by Phil Collins. Again, it's awfully nice to not have to put up with a diva or two on the soundtrack. Even the whole talking animals thing makes sense this time: Tarzan can speak to them. The other humans cannot. Well done.

As for the annoying sidekicks (voiced by Rosie O'Donnell and Wayne Knight), I leave them for either your mirth or your displeasure. Ultimately, this Disneyfied Tarzan ends up somewhere between The Lion King and Hercules. You can decide for yourself exactly where.

The DVD is light on extras -- including about 10 minutes of deleted scenes, kids' games, and music videos.

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Monkey see, monkey do.


Tarzan (1999) Rating

" Good "

Rating: G, 1999


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