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"TARZAN"
(1999) (voices of Tony Goldwyn, Minnie Driver) (G)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor Minor Heavy *Heavy Moderate
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mile None Heavy None None
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
None Minor Moderate Mild Heavy


QUICK TAKE:
Children's/Animated: Orphaned as an infant and then discovered and raised by jungle gorillas, a young man must deal with the differences between himself and his primate family and friends as well as the eventual arrival of other humans in his jungle paradise.
PLOT:
When his shipwrecked parents are killed by Sabor, a ferocious leopard, an infant is left all alone high atop his family's African jungle tree house. His isolation isn't for long, however, as a kind and caring female gorilla, Kala (voice of GLENN CLOSE), finds and adopts the boy, naming him Tarzan. Having recently lost her baby also to Sabor, Kala is happy to have another child, but while the silverback patriarch of the ape family, Kerchak (voice of LANCE HENRIKSEN), allows her to raise Tarzan, he steadfastly states that the human shall never be his son.

Nonetheless, and despite the differences between his human abilities and those of his family and friends, Tarzan (voice of TONY GOLDWYN) grows up over the years, unaware of his human past and heritage. His best friends, Terk (voice of ROSIE O'DONNELL), a playful young gorilla and Tantor (voice of WAYNE KNIGHT) a young and easily frightened elephant, certainly don't seem to mind that he's different.

Things change, however, upon the arrival of several British explorers and researchers. Traveling with her father, Professor Porter (voice of NIGEL HAWTHORNE), young Jane (voice of Minnie Driver) hopes to see gorillas for the first time in the wild. Accompanied by their bodyguard/great white hunter, Clayton (voice of BRIAN BLESSED), the threesome ventures forth into the presumably dangerous jungle.

Jane eventually meets Tarzan after he saves her life and the two are immediately attracted to each other. Soon the British realize that Tarzan is human and so teach him the ways of the world and how to speak their language. Happy to have found his own "species," Tarzan wants to introduce the humans to his ape family, but Kerchak forbids it, citing the need to protect the gorillas. From that point on, and with Clayton secretly wishing to capture several apes for a large bounty, Tarzan must decide whether to remain with his gorilla family, or return with the Jane and the others and live his life as a human.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Of course -- especially if they're fans of other animated Disney films.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: G
For not containing material to warrant a higher rating.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • While it's questionable whether kids view animated characters, particularly non-humans, as role models, here goes:
  • TARZAN is a likeable young man who just so happens to have been raised as an ape by his adoptive gorilla family. Occasionally a bit rambunctious, he breaks his "father's" rules when he associates with the recently arrived humans and then brings them to his gorilla family.
  • JANE is a proper, British young lady who wishes to see the world and sketch native wildlife.
  • CLAYTON is a scheming "great white hunter" type who wants to either kill or capture the gorillas and receive a generous bounty for each.
  • KALA is Tarzan's caring gorilla mother who only wants the best for him.
  • KERCHAK is the stern leader of the gorilla family who tries to protect them from various dangers, such as a ferocious leopard and some newly arrived humans.
  • TERK is Tarzan's best friend, a playful young gorilla with whom he was raised.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 7.5 out of 10
    When you're going to make the umpteenth movie about the second most recurring character ever to appear on the silver screen since film first ran through a camera -- for those wondering, the most popular is Dracula -- there had better be some good reasons. With Disney's release of "Tarzan," there are actually several, and while some may argue whether they're all good, this animated picture certainly is.

    A clear tie-in to the Animal Kingdom theme park in Orlando is obviously one, with all of the subsequently related A.K. and film product tie-ins being another. Yes, you're soon to be inundated with Tarzan action figures, plush Terk and Tantor toys and enough other miscellaneous merchandise to more than adequately fill toy stores and children's bedrooms alike.

    Commercialism aside, the most relevant artistic reason for bringing the Lord of the Jungle to the big screen for the 48th time, especially in animated form, all leads back to Edgar Rice Burroughs. The early 20th century novelist and creator of Tarzan, Burroughs had never traveled to Africa when he wrote about Tarzan, but he envisioned him as a powerful, limber and agile ape-man.

    In fact, in the 1930s Burroughs stated that animating his creation would more faithfully represent him on the screen, even going so far as to note that such an effort "must approximate Disney excellence." However, aside from the Tarzan-inspired cartoon "George of the Jungle" -- which Disney, of course, recently remade as a live action feature -- all of the actors playing him have been of the real, flesh and blood type, with some of them adding a certain woodenness to that mix.

    As such, filmmakers were stuck with those performers' less than satisfying physical limitations in both playing an ape-man, and the manner in which he moved through the jungle, not to mention his interaction with the land's native creatures.

    With an animated Tarzan, however, those limitations have been stricken. The hyper kinetic results are sure to delight the film's target audience and probably the parental units they've brought with them. This Tarzan doesn't just swing from tree to tree, but instead "surfs" the jungle, sliding down and around trees like he's in an immense water slide park. He also performs stunts that not even the seemingly gravity-defying Jackie Chan could accomplish (although I'm sure he would try).

    Tarzan also moves and behaves in more of an animal-like fashion than ever before. For example we see him occasionally walk along on his knuckles or pick up fruit with his foot. Thus, he seems far more "realistic" than the often stiff performers who previously embodied the character over the years. The animation also allows for Tarzan to directly interact with the animal characters, again resulting in more realism than would be possible with real actors and animals (or people in monkey suits).

    Utilizing an animation process they've named "Deep Canvas," the Disney animators have also created the best and most "realistic" looking background for any of their features. With the ability to move the camera in and around the background, co-directors Kevin Lima ("A Goofy Movie") and Chris Buck (making his feature debut) create a fun and lively experience within an incredible looking picture. The animated characters also look quite good, although they occasionally seem a bit flat when compared to the background in which they appear.

    The screenplay -- courtesy of screenwriters Tab Murphy ("The Hunchback of Notre Dame") and Bob Tzudiker & Noni White (collaborators on "The Lion King") -- satisfactorily keeps things moving at a good clip, and offers both laughs and some touching moments.

    For the most, it also follows the path of the traditional and well-known Burroughs story. As such, it seems at once pleasantly familiar but also somewhat new since the last, most "true" adaption was 1984's "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes."

    There have been some alterations to the classic story, however, including the fact that Tarzan doesn't return to England in the story's third act and we never see any native African people. The biggest omission for fans of the previous films, though, is that Cheetah, the ape-man's chimp sidekick, is nowhere to be seen.

    While the filmmakers -- and probably the head studio honchos -- may have omitted the character in favor of newer, comic relief characters -- after all, we already had the little monkey Abu from "Aladdin" and the rest of the apes here -- one has to wonder how much of the decision was based on art versus product tie-in commercialism. As a kid, I always enjoyed Cheetah in those old black and white Tarzan films, and would have liked to have seen him finally given a chance to speak after all these years.

    The film, however, does stick with the obligatory animated feature elements. Thus, not only do we get the two sidekick characters (some of the more weakly developed ones in recent Disney history), but also the doe-eyed buxom heroine, the oversized and square jawed villain, the short and somewhat absentminded father figure and, of course, the orphaned youngster who grows up as something of an outsider.

    All of that's obviously present to appease the kids through familiarity, but one has to wonder whether Disney's onto something and has discovered that those are actually universally accepted anthropological archetypes to which everyone subconsciously reacts.

    There's also the now standard inclusion of soundtrack selling musical numbers, but this time around the filmmakers have made a surprising but completely appropriate diversion from the norm. Instead of the characters suddenly breaking into song like a Broadway musical and the countless film versions of them -- occurrences that are fun, but at the same time often quite hokey -- the music serves only as a complementary device. That's a wise decision because it's doubtful many viewers need or want to hear Tarzan as a crooner.

    With just five songs by former Genesis singer/drummer Phil Collins (who also later had a successful career on his own), the music is some of the best from a Disney animated flick in years, and perfectly fits in with the scenes it accompanies.

    Vocal delivery for the animated characters is solid across the board. While Tony Goldwyn ("Kiss the Girls," "Ghost") doesn't resort to any wild theatrics in voicing the jungle man, his take on the character seems dead on. Minnie Driver ("Good Will Hunting," "Circle of Friends") is perfectly cast as the prim and proper, young Englishwoman and brings everything and more to her role.

    The rest of the vocal talent, from Glenn Close ("Fatal Attraction") nicely voicing the caring mother to Lance Henricksen (TV's "Millennium"), doing his take on the solemn James Earl Jones- like father-figure, is good, although both Rosie O'Donnell ("Harriet the Spy") and Wayne Knight (TV's "Seinfeld") don't really do enough with their sidekick characters to make them either very funny or memorable.

    Although the film isn't quite up to par with Disney's best animated features, it's still quite good and certainly enjoyable. With enough thrilling, funny and even cute moments to keep kids of all ages entertained for its hour and a half duration, families certainly won't go wrong with this feature. We give "Tarzan" a 7.5 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this G-rated, animated film. As in other similar films, some adventurous, suspenseful and menacing scenes may be a little (or a lot) unsettling or frightening to some kids, all dependent, of course, on their age, level of maturity and tolerance for such material.

    During those, some violence occurs (fighting with animals and/or humans), and several animal and human characters are killed (although the actual deaths are not directly seen). Some of that leads to tense family scenes as family members are among those victims.

    Beyond all of that and the material directly related to such violent/suspenseful/scary scenes (including bad attitudes from the villain), the rest of the film's categories have little or nothing in the way of major objectionable content. Nonetheless, should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for anyone in your home, we suggest that you more closely examine the listed content.

    Of special note for those concerned with repetitive flashes of light, during a sequence where Tarzan watches a slide-show, some brief moments of this occur as the slides are rapidly advanced causing some full screen flashes.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Clayton pours himself and Tarzan some wine, but Tarzan doesn't drink any of it.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see bloody paw prints in a tree house.
  • Kala adversely reacts to the smell of Tarzan's diaper.
  • Sabor the leopard has a bloody scratch on his shoulder while Tarzan has slightly bloody scratch marks on his chest.
  • After hearing a gunshot in the distance, Tantor says, "It wasn't me, I swear" (a flatulence joke).
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Although he's only doing what nature intended, kids will see Sabor the leopard as having both for killing several characters.
  • Clayton has both for wanting either to kill or capture the gorillas and ends up manipulating and then double crossing Jane and her father to do the latter.
  • Tarzan doesn't follow Kerchak's rules and brings other humans to their gorilla family (nearly resulting in disaster).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Depending on a child's age, level of maturity and tolerance for such material, the following may or may not be unsettling and/or frightening to them.
  • A musical montage that opens the film has elements that may be unsettling or frightening to some kids. During it, we see Tarzan's human parents jumping from a burning ship as it sinks and Sabor then menacing the gorillas and taking and killing Kala's baby (although the latter is implied).
  • As Kala cautiously goes through a tree house following a baby's crying, some suspenseful music plays and we see bloody paw prints on the floor. After a moment or so, Sabor shows up and then attacks and chases Kala in a very menacing fashion. During this, the infant Tarzan nearly rolls off the treetop platform and Sabor goes after him. Kala then reaches down through some planking trying to reach Tarzan as the leopard approaches in another close-call encounter. That ends with Kala and Tarzan falling a great distance from the tree (but both are okay in this minute or so long sequence that's accompanied by suspenseful music).
  • An elephant stampede (that starts off as a funny scene) where they nearly run over and/or step on the gorillas may be suspenseful to some kids.
  • During a musical montage (with no scary music), several crocodiles snap at Tarzan, but he easily eludes their attempts (and this is very brief). The same holds true moments later for a large snake that Tarzan similarly eludes (where the snake ends up in knots).
  • As suspenseful music plays, Sabor the leopard returns and attacks Kerchak who falls to the ground. As the leopard circles him and prepares to attack, Tarzan swings in and kicks him away. Sabor then tries to attack Tarzan who defends himself with a spear (both have slightly bloody wounds). Tarzan then loses the blade from his spear and Sabor really comes after him. As Tarzan tries to get that blade, the two then fall into a hole and Tarzan eventually emerges (after a pregnant pause), carrying the dead leopard (the fatal blow is not seen).
  • We hear some gunshots echoing off in the distance.
  • A large group of menacing looking baboons chase Jane through the jungle in a several minute sequence where one even bites on her shoe that then falls to the ground below her. Tarzan then initially saves her, but must continue to elude the pursuing monkeys and avoid huge falling branches that nearly hit them.
  • Clayton tries to shoot Tarzan, but Jane knocks his shotgun aside just in time as it fires.
  • Some evil men (working for Clayton) have taken over the boat and grab Jane and her father. Jane bites one of them on the arm, Tarzan falls from a distance to the deck, Clayton holds his gun on him and then hits Tarzan in the gut with it. We then see that Tarzan and company are being held in the ship's bowels.
  • As suspenseful music plays throughout, Clayton's subordinates arrive in the jungle and chase and capture the gorillas with nets after firing flares into the air that give the scene a reddish hue. Clayton then prepares to shoot the captured Kerchak, but Tarzan knocks him down. Kerchak and Tantor then hit various men, and a man holds a spear to Terk, but Tantor grabs him by the neck.
  • Jane then knocks down some people and is nearly attacked from behind, but Tarzan then knocks out that man. A shot is then fired that grazes Tarzan's arm and another shot is fired and we see Kerchak fall to the ground mortally wounded. Clayton fires at Tarzan again, Jane briefly struggles with him and Clayton then knocks her to the ground apparently unconscious. Tarzan and Clayton then fight with the former kicking the latter and then holding the shotgun on him. Clayton then pulls out a knife (as a thunderstorm rages), the two struggle some more, and as Clayton tries to cut himself free from some vines, ends up falling and being hanged from one of them (we don't see the actual death, but do see the shadow of him hanging from the vine during several flashes of lightning).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Spear: Occasionally carried and used by Tarzan to fight and eventually kill Sabor (the latter isn't directly seen) and briefly used by a man to threaten Terk.
  • Shotgun: Carried by Clayton and used to shoot at nearly anything that moves in the jungle and in particular at the gorillas.
  • Shotgun: Seen on the floor of a tree house with spent shells nearby.
  • Knife: Used by Clayton to threaten Tarzan during a fight.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Freaky," "Idiot" and "Shut your trunk."
  • One of Terk's gorilla friends makes another one punch himself by repeatedly moving his arm.
  • Terk and her gorilla pals tell a young Tarzan that he has to pull a hair off an elephant to be able to hang out with them. While kids obviously won't have access to elephants, they may require the task to involve the family or neighbor dog or cat.
  • In an impromptu musical number, Terk and her friends make music (or follow the beat of the song) by breaking things (dishes, etc...) in the humans' camp.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A heavy amount of suspenseful music plays during several scenes and sequences in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • None.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • None.
  • SMOKING
  • Clayton briefly walks along with a pipe in his mouth.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Although it occurs off camera, Sabor kills Kala's baby and she and others briefly grieve. Later, Kerchak tells Kala that Tarzan won't replace their dead baby and she says that she knows that. He then adds that Tarzan can stay, but will never be his son.
  • Although the infant who later becomes Tarzan is completely unaware, we see that his parents have been killed in their tree house (we only see their legs sticking out).
  • When Tarzan is a young boy, Kerchak tells him that he'll never "be one of us."
  • Tarzan asks Kala why she didn't inform him that there were others like him in the world. She then later takes him back to his human family's tree house where he sees a picture of his human parents.
  • Kerchak is mad at Tarzan, telling him that he asked him to protect their family, but ended up betraying them (by bringing the humans to their family).
  • Tarzan and the rest of his family watch as Kerchak dies (from a gunshot wound).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Whether Tarzan should have stayed with his gorilla family or returned with the other humans.
  • That even Tarzan felt like an outcast (wondering why he was different from his family, etc...).
  • VIOLENCE
  • Although it occurs off camera, Sabor kills Kala's baby. Likewise, Kala later sees that the leopard has killed Tarzan's human parents (we only see legs sticking out inside their tree house).
  • Sabor then attacks and chases after Kala.
  • Sabor the leopard returns and attacks Kerchak who falls to the ground. As the leopard circles him and prepares to attack, Tarzan swings in and kicks him away. Sabor then tries to attack Tarzan who defends himself with a spear (both have slightly bloody wounds). Tarzan then loses the blade from his spear and Sabor really comes after him. As Tarzan tries to get that blade, the two then fall into a hole and Tarzan eventually emerges (after a pregnant pause), carrying the dead leopard (the fatal blow is not seen).
  • Clayton fires several shotgun blasts when he hears something in the jungle (that nearly hit Tarzan).
  • When Tarzan innocently starts to lift Jane's dress (since he's never seen one), she reactively kicks him in the face and sends him falling backwards.
  • Terk and her friends start breaking things in the humans' camp (because they don't know any better and to make music by breaking dishes, etc...).
  • Clayton tries to shoot Tarzan, but Jane knocks his shotgun aside just in time as it fires.
  • Kerchak charges at Clayton who fires at him but misses. Tarzan then struggles with Kerchak to stop him from attacking (and trying to defend his gorilla family).
  • Terk slaps Tantor on the foot for making them miss saying goodbye to Tarzan.
  • Some evil men (working for Clayton) have taken over the boat and grab Jane and her father. Jane bites one of them on the arm, Tarzan falls from a distance to the deck, Clayton holds his gun on him and then hits Tarzan in the gut with it. Later, Terk and Tantor come to rescue and Tantor knocks many of these men aside.
  • As suspenseful music plays throughout, Clayton's subordinates arrive in the jungle and chase and capture the gorillas with nets after firing flares into the air that give the scene a reddish hue. Clayton then prepares to shoot the captured Kerchak, but Tarzan knocks him down. Kerchak and Tantor then hit various men, and a man holds a spear to Terk, but Tantor grabs him by the neck.
  • Jane then knocks down some people and is nearly attacked from behind, but Tarzan then knocks out that man. A shot is then fired that grazes Tarzan's arm and another shot is fired and we see Kerchak fall to the ground mortally wounded. Clayton fires at Tarzan again, Jane briefly struggles with him and Clayton then knocks her to the ground apparently unconscious. Tarzan and Clayton then fight with the former kicking the latter and then holding the shotgun on him. Clayton then pulls out a knife (as a thunderstorm rages), the two struggle some more, and as Clayton tries to cut himself free from some vines, ends up falling and being hanged from one of them (we don't see the actual death, but do see the shadow of him hanging from the vine during several flashes of lightning).



  • Reviewed June 14, 1999 / Posted June 18, 1999

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