George of the Jungle
starring Brendan Fraser, Leslie Mann and the voice of John Cleese
narrated by Kevin Scott
special creature effects by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop
directed by Sam Weisman
This is a really stupid movie, but it has something to tell us and that we can learn about popular American culture today. It’s really stupid!
George of the Jungle is an old television cartoon that I used to watch when I was a university student. It was crated by jaw Ward and re-written for the screen by Dana Olsen and Audrey Wells. Borrowing form the Tarzan stories - and later described by the film’s heroine as “a Tarzan wannabe” - a human child is lost in the jungle and raised by apes. In this case an ape whose name is “Ape” (the voice belongs to British comedian John Cleese). The boy’s name is George Primate,” or just “George of the Jungle.” He is described in typical cartoon super-hero fashion as, “That defender of the innocent, protector of the weak, and all-around good-guy.”
Not very inspiring. The story is just really dumb, too. My favorite line form the narrator is, “Nobody dies in this movie, they just get really big boo-boos.” But I did like the cameo appearance, as himself, of San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. That was good.
Brendan Fraser is a young-ish California-handsome actor who you might remember from other movies such as School Ties, With
Honor (co-starring Joe Pesci), and the hilarious Airheads (with Adam Sandler and Steve Buscemi).
I think that as American Baby Boomers age there is a big nostalgia market for those old, favorite TV cartoons and shows. So in recent years there have been a lot of American television cartoons re-made into movies. Some of these, like Ritchie Rich with Macaulay Culkin, have been quite elaborate, big-budget affairs. Others include John Landis’ Dennis the Menace, The Flintstones (John Goodman), Rocky and Bullwinkle (Robert DeNiro and George Alexander), Batman (Michael Keaton), and the Superman movies (Christopher Reeve).
Some of the classic TV shows that have been re-made as movies include The Addams Family (Raul Julia and Angelica Huston) based on a comic strip by Charles Addams; The Beverly Hillbillies; The New Monkees (a show that bombed after only a few weeks, gladly); The Brady Bunch Movie; and, back in the 1980s, The Nude Bomb with Don Adams, based on his old show, Get Smart. Until The Simpsons came along I used to think that Get Smart was the cleverest TV show ever made.
But the biggest of the bunch has to be Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek. It has been made into six movies starring the original cat with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy and three new TV series: Star Trek Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Star Voyager, and several movies spun off of Star Trek Next Generation featuring Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes. The most recent of these is called Star Trek Insurrection, which I saw on the big screen in Shinjuku’s Kabuki-cho district.
Some of these are great and exciting. But too many of them fall flat on their faces.