|George of the Jungle|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sam Weisman|
|Produced by||David Hoberman|
|Screenplay by||Dana Olsen|
|Story by||Dana Olsen|
|Based on||George of the Jungle|
by Jay Ward
|Music by||Marc Shaiman|
|Cinematography||Thomas E. Ackerman|
|Edited by||Kent Beyda|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures Distribution|
|Box office||$174.4 million|
George of the Jungle is a 1997 American comedy film directed by Sam Weisman and based on the Jay Ward cartoon of the same name, which is also a spoof of Tarzan. The film was produced by Walt Disney Pictures with Mandeville Films and The Kerner Entertainment Company and was released in 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.
In an animated sequence, a plane flying through the Bukuvu region in the heart of Central Africa crashes. A child on board the plane, George, disappears into the jungle and is raised by a sapient, talking gorilla named Ape. Twenty-five years later, George, who enjoys swinging on vines to move about but has a habit of crashing into trees, has grown to be King of the Jungle.
Ursula Stanhope, a San Francisco heiress, tours Burundi with local guide Kwame and a trio of porters. Ursula is tracked down and joined by her fiancé, Lyle Van De Groot, with two poachers named Max and Thor. Kwame tells the group of the "White Ape", a local legend of a superhuman primate that rules the jungle. The next day, Lyle, insistent on taking Ursula home as soon as possible, goes into the jungle with her to find the White Ape and they are attacked by a lion. Lyle knocks himself out trying to flee while Ursula is saved by George. George takes Ursula to his tree house home and cares for her, introducing her to Shep, an African bush elephant that acts like George's dog, and Tookie, a toco toucan. George is smitten with Ursula and attempts to woo her; Ursula reciprocates his attraction, and her time spent with George makes her no longer wish to return home.
Lyle, Max and Thor find the treehouse and Lyle confronts Ursula and George. Max and Thor make to shoot Shep for his ivory, and Ape shouts at Shep to run. Everyone is stunned by the sight of a talking ape and Max and Thor decide to tranquilize and capture him. George runs to stop them and is accidentally shot by Lyle, who thought his gun was a novelty lighter. Lyle and the poachers are imprisoned and Lyle is identified as the shooter by the porters; Max and Thor are released and resolve to capture Ape to make a fortune in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Ursula takes George home to get medical help for his wound and to see the human world he belongs in.
While Ursula is at work, George explores San Francisco and uses his vine-swinging to rescue a paraglider that got tangled in the Bay Bridge. Ursula, uninterested in marrying Lyle, admits the truth to her parents, but her overbearing mother Beatrice objects. At a party intended to celebrate Ursula's engagement, Beatrice takes George aside and coldly tells him she will not let Ursula's engagement fall apart, and refuses to let George be with her. In Africa, Max and Thor capture Ape, who manages to order Tookie to find George before he falls unconscious. Tookie flies to San Francisco and George returns to the jungle, leaving Ursula in the night. While Ursula's parents comfort her, she realizes she loves George and goes to find him, much to Beatrice's dismay but to her father's approval.
Ape tricks the poachers into circling the jungle and returning to the treehouse where George confronts and fights them, eventually incapacitating them with a little help from Ursula and his animal friends. However, Lyle arrives: the narrator explains that Lyle escaped prison, joined a cult, and is now an ordained minister. Lyle has the mercenaries he brought with him subdue George and takes Ursula to the nearby Ape River, where he has a boat waiting to escape while he performs a marriage ceremony. However, the river is a harsh series of rapids that hurtle the two into danger. George escapes the mercenaries and performs a big swing to reach Ursula and Lyle, only to crash into a massive tree. However, the tree falls over the river and he pulls Ursula to safety. Lyle ends up in a cave and, believing he is still sharing the boat with Ursula, proclaims them wedded; he lights his lighter and beholds that he just married himself to a gorilla.
George and Ursula declare their love for each other and marry, Ursula moving into George's treehouse. Some time later, the two are raising a son, George Jr., who they present to the animals from atop Pride Rock.
In a mid-credits scene, Ape reveals he has become a famous entertainer in Las Vegas, using Max and Thor as stuntmen.
- Brendan Fraser as George, a young man who was raised in the jungle like Tarzan and frequently crashes into trees while swinging on vines. Fraser had concurrently auditioned for the title role in Disney's serious animated adaptation of Tarzan, which would be released in 1999, but lost to Tony Goldwyn.
- Leslie Mann as Ursula Stanhope, a wealthy heiress.
- Thomas Haden Church as Lyle van de Groot, Ursula's wealthy fiancé.
- Richard Roundtree as Kwame, Ursula's jungle guide.
- Greg Cruttwell and Abraham Benrubi as Max and Thor, two poachers and trackers who work for Lyle.
- John Bennett Perry as Arthur Stanhope, Ursula's supportive father.
- Holland Taylor as Beatrice Stanhope, Ursula's mother, who believes that social position is more important than having a loving marriage. She strongly dislikes George.
- Kelly Miracco as Betsy, Ursula's best 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.
- Crystal the Monkey as Monkey.
- John Cleese as Ape, a well-educated, talking eastern gorilla who is George’s best friend.
- Keith Scott as Narrator.
- Frank Welker as Lion, Little Monkey, Shep, Tooki Tooki Bird, and Gorilla sound effects
Gorilla suit performers
- Nameer Ed-Kadi – Ape (body)
- Tom Fisher
- Jody St. Michael
- Philip Tan
- Lief Tilden
- Robert Tygner – Ape (facial puppetry)
In the opening animated sequence, various animals swing on vines with young George, his "dog" Shep (actually an elephant), 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 Shep 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 who were Henson puppeteers. Their faces were remote-controlled animatronic heads, which, along with the yak fur gorilla suits, were provided by Jim Henson's Creature Shop. All were meticulously trained in gorilla behavior.
Track #2, the Johnny Clegg song "Dela", also features the first few bars of the original George of the Jungle theme song (movie version only).
- "George of the Jungle" (Sheldon Allman, Stanley Worth) – 2:53 – Presidents of the United States of America
- "Dela (I Know Why the Dog Howls at the Moon)" (Johnny Clegg) – 4:16 – Johnny Clegg & Savuka
- "Wipe Out" (Jim Fuller, Berryhill, Patrick Connolly, Ron Wilson) – 2:39 – The Surfaris
- "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" (Traditional) – 0:57 – Roger Freeland, Jon Joyce, Steve Lively, Gary Stockdale
- "My Way" (Paul Anka, Jacques Revaux, Claude François, Gilles Thibault) – 1:11 – John Cleese
- "Aba Daba Honeymoon" (Walter Donovan, Arthur Fields) – 1:55 – Karen Harper
- "George of the Jungle" (Allman, Worth) – 1:03 – "Weird Al" Yankovic
- "Go Ape [The Dance Mix]" (Michael Becker) – 3:25 – Michael Becker
- "Jungle Band" (Michael Becker) – 3:18 – Carl Graves
- "George to the Rescue" – 1:11
- "Rumble in the Jungle" – 3:15
- "The Little Monkey" – 2:23
- "George of the Jungle [Main Title Movie Mix]" (Marc Shaiman) – 2:20
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Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 56% based on 54 reviews with an average rating of 5.5/10. 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. It was nominated for Best Fantasy film at the Saturn Awards.
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 were re-cast using different actors, although Keith Scott, Thomas Haden Church and John Cleese reprised their roles from the original.
- Eller, Claudia (1997-08-12). "COMPANY TOWN; The Heat Was On; Sun Shines on Studios This Summer After All". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
- "GEORGE, GEORGE, GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE A TREE-SWINGING BRENDAN FRASER ENJOYED PUN AND GAMES OF MAKING NEW DISNEY FILM". Morning Call. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
- Lawson, Terry (June 16, 1999). "'Tarzan' Yell". Knight-Ridder. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
- Movie Review – George Of The Jungle
- "George Of The Jungle". Chicago Sun-Times.
- "George Of The Jungle' Debut Can't Swing Past 'Men In Black". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-11-12.