out of 4
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George of the Jungle
Review by MrBrown
0 stars out of 4
Hollywood's track record in bringing old television cartoons to real
life in the big screen hasn't exactly been good, to the say the least: in
1980, Popeye came to theatres in Robert Altman's musical oddity; 1994 saw
the heavily hyped but thunderously boring The Flintstones. The track record
doesn't get any better with Sam Weisman's thoroughly unwatchable treatment
of Jay Ward's 1960s animated series.
Brendan Fraser stars as the title character, the wide-eyed king of
the jungle who has a problem with crashing into trees; Leslie Mann is the
love interest, heiress Ursula Stanhope; John Cleese provides the voice of
George's simian sidekick, an ape named Ape; and Thomas Haden Church is the
villainous Lyle Van de Groot, Ursula's fiance. So what is the film about?
Don't ask scripters Dana Olsen and Audrey Wells. Their script is a mess,
heavy on slapstick pratfalls ("when in doubt, have George slam into
something" seems to be their philosophy) and groaner one-liners, light on
anything resembling a plot--and without any dramatic structure, the film
seems to drag on and on and on (and then some) without any rhyme or reason.
Olsen and Wells try to infuse some irony into the proceedings through the
use of an unseen, pompously self-aware narrator (Keith Scott). The attempt
at self-mocking is admirable, but the writers just don't seem to realize
just how bad it all is, from the overly broad performances (Fraser's George
is more of an annoying dimwit than a charming innocent) to the cheap-looking
jungle sets. The one thing one would think the film would at the very least
get right is the nostalgia kick from its bouncy theme song. Alas, even that
is botched--instead of using the original version from the TV show during
the main titles, Weisman serves up an alterna-rock-inflected version by the
Presidents of the United States of America.
At a tick over 90 minutes, the painfully forced, unfunny George
feels three times its actual length, if not more. At the media screening,
the guy sitting behind me could be heard loudly snoring during the third
act. We should all be so lucky.
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