Outlandishly stupid GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE is a MONTY PYTHON level
comedy for the grade school set. It even has MONTY PYTHON regular John
Cleese supplying the voice of George's intellectual sidekick, the ape
Brendan Fraser, who has been in a long string of silly movies
(including ENCINO MAN) and a few serious ones (the best being SCHOOL
TIES) hams it up as George. Everyone in the show knows that they have
signed up to do a farce so they milk the slapstick as hard they can.
Depending on your point of view, this film is either truly awful or so
bad it is good. In either case, be warned that a little of this
repetitive movie can go a long way.
The show starts with Ursula Stanhope (played by Leslie Mann from
THE CABLE GUY), a rich heiress from "Frisco", and her snooty fiance,
Lyle Vandergroot (Thomas Haden Church), on a safari in darkest Africa.
They are there to see apes, and while in camp, they hear of the
existence of a white ape.
Ursula, a ditzy blonde with the brainpower of a church mouse,
seems well matched to her intended. Lyle, with his ascot and his
desire for a latte in the jungle, has an intelligence equal to his
fiancee's. He is also a major coward and a liar. Both Mann and Church
play their characters as pure camp.
The best actor in the show is never seen. Keith Scott, with a
voice like Robin Leach from "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," is the
film's all-knowing narrator. When Lyle, on a lark, causes one of his
guides to fall several thousand feet into the river canyon, the
narrator reassures the kiddies in the audience. "Don't worry," he
tells them. "Nobody dies in this story. They just get really big
boo-boos." And when George gets shot point blank in the head, the
narrator reasons with us, "George can't die because he's the star."
After the narrator, the next best parts of the film are the few
special effects. Most of us never seen a full grown elephant that
jumps around and has all the mannerisms of a dog. George has just such
a hybrid, and the elephant is the largest and most unusual version of
man's best friend you are ever likely to see. Imagine an elephant
Of course, George's raison d'etre is his proclivity to crash into
everything, especially trees. ("Watch out for that tree!" is the
show's mantra.) Fraser has the muscular body and the ridiculous smile
that makes him well chosen for the part. George's costume consists
solely of what he refers to as a "mud flap," and his home is a Swiss
Family Robinson-style tree house, complete with an elevator.
After way too many flatulence jokes, GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE finally
runs out of gas and ends. But don't leave yet. There's a funny
epilogue set in Las Vegas.
And then it does end, well sort of. The film's theme song is
guaranteed to remain firmly planted in your brain for months. You'll
be singing it at the office, driving your coworkers crazy. ("George,
George, George of the jungle, watch out for that treeeeee!" Aargh, I'm
doing it again.)
GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE runs 1:32, which is longer than it sounds.
The movie is rated PG, but consider it a G and fine for kids of any
age. My son Jeffrey, age 8, thought it was "great!" His favorite part
was when George's doggish elephant loaded his trunk up like a cannon
and shot a bad guy in the rear with a toucan. I give the picture a
mild thumbs up and ** 1/2.
Copyright © 1997 Steve Rhodes