3 1/2 Stars
Disney’s George of the Jungle is arguably the best live-action family film released by the Mouse House during the 1990’s. Serving as both a splendid family film and downright funny comedy, the minds behind the project wisely injected wit, sight gags, and an irreverent attitude for the material.
Deep in the heart of the African jungle, a baby named George, the sole survivor of a plane crash, is being raised by apes. Decades later, George (Brendan Fraser) has become ‘the king of the jungle’. He’s a muscle-bound likable klutz who has a talking Ape (John Cleese) for a companion, who’s the smartest person in the film. When a rich poacher (Thomas Hayden Church) attempts to enslave the jungle animals, George intervenes and inadvertently kidnaps the lovely Ursula (Leslie Mann), fiance of the ruthless poacher.
A love affair forms between the girl from high society and the ape-man. Their affair is threatened by the pursuit of her jilted lover and his hired goons. Ursula decides to take George back to civilization, which produces culture shock–an reminds audiences that Frasier traveled this path in Encino Man–before rescuing a man caught in the ropes of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco.
George of the Jungle was directed by Sam Weisman with the same fun spirit that he infused into the unjustly overlooked The Phantom. This picture is well-thought out and filled with a lot of jokes, and pleasant surprises that make the film fly by. Fraser is toned, tanned, and an A-1 buffoon. His facial gestures and bemused expressions are in keeping with his breakout role of link in Encino Man. Compared to the awful Mr. Magoo or Flubber released later in ’97, George is a classic. It’s definitely one to catch if you missed it over the last twenty years.
Director: Sam Weisman
Stars: Brendan Fraser, Leslie Mann, Thomas Haden Church