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George of the Jungle (film)


George of the Jungle (film)


George of the Jungle is a 1997 American comedy film directed by Sam Weisman and based on Jay Ward and Bill Scott's 1967 American animated television series of the same name, which in turn is a spoof of the fictional character Tarzan, created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Written by Dana Olsen and Audrey Wells, and starring Brendan Fraser, Leslie Mann, Thomas Haden Church, Holland Taylor, Richard Roundtree, and John Cleese. It tells the story of a young man raised by wild animals who falls for an heiress and contends with the heiress's spoiled fiancé. The film was produced by Walt Disney Pictures and was released in theatres throughout the United States and Canada on July 16, 1997. It was later aired on Disney Channel in the United States on December 5, 1998. The film received mixed reviews and grossed $174 million worldwide. A sequel, George of the Jungle 2, was released direct-to-video on October 21, 2003.

Plot

While touring Burundi with local guide Kwame and a trio of porters, San Francisco heiress Ursula Stanhope encounters her spoiled fiancé Lyle van de Groot, who wishes to take her home and had hired two poachers, Max and Thor, to track her down. Kwame tells the group of the "White Ape", a local legend of a superhuman primate that lives on Ape Mountain and rules the jungle. The next day, Ursula refuses to go home until she sees the White Ape, so Lyle goes with her into the jungle to find it. The two are attacked by a lion, and Lyle knocks himself unconscious trying to flee. Ursula is saved by the King of the Jungle, George.

After taking Ursula to his tree house home and caring for her, George introduces her to his three animal friends: Ape, the sapient talking gorilla who raised him; Shep, his pet African forest elephant that acts like a dog; and Tookie, a toco toucan who gives him news involving the jungle's animals. George is smitten with Ursula and attempts to woo her; Ursula soon reciprocates his attraction, and her time spent with George makes her no longer wish to return home.

Lyle, Max, and Thor soon arrive at the treehouse, but Ursula treats Lyle coldly for trying to abandon her during the lion attack. Max and Thor try to shoot Shep for his ivory, and Ape shouts at Shep to run. Everyone is stunned by the sight of the 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 the gun was his novelty lighter that he had planned to scare George off with. Lyle is imprisoned after being identified as the shooter by the porters. Max and Thor are deported, but resolve to return to the treehouse to capture Ape and make a fortune off of him in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Ursula takes George to San Francisco to get medical help for his gunshot wound, and to show him the human world, which he has not seen since infancy.

While Ursula is at work, George explores San Francisco on his own, and uses his vine-swinging skills to rescue a man whose paraglider has become caught on the suspension cables of the Bay Bridge. Ursula admits what happened in Africa to her parents and intends to break off the wedding, but her overbearing mother Beatrice objects. At a party intended to celebrate Ursula's engagement, Beatrice takes George aside and coldly tells him that Ursula's marriage to Lyle must proceed as planned, and threatens to harm George if he interferes. Back in Burundi, Max and Thor tranquilize Ape; before he falls unconscious and is captured, Ape manages to send Tookie to find George. Tookie flies to San Francisco and informs George of Ape's capture, forcing George to leave Ursula and return to Burundi. While confused by George's unexplained departure, Ursula realizes she loves George and goes to find him, despite her mother's protests.

Max and Thor, having returned to the treehouse after getting turned around by a phony shortcut trail, are confronted by George. With help from Ursula and the animals, George defeats the poachers and saves Ape. Lyle then appears, having escaped prison, joined a cult, and become a legally ordained minister able to perform marriage ceremonies. Lyle has George subdued by a group of hired mercenaries, and forcibly takes Ursula to a boat waiting on Ape River to perform their marriage rites. However, the ceremony is interrupted by a series of harsh rapids that puts them both in danger. George escapes the mercenaries with help from Shep and the gorillas, and swings in to reach Ursula and Lyle, only to crash painfully into a massive tree. As the tree falls over the river, George manages to pull Ursula to safety while the rapids lead Lyle into a dark cave. Lyle, thinking Ursula is still in the boat, proclaims their wedding vows; to his horror, he discovers that he has just married himself to a gorilla.

George and Ursula declare their love for each other and marry, with the people of both San Francisco and Africa, as well as the jungle's animals, in attendance. Some time later, the two live in their own treehouse and are raising a son, George Jr., whom they present to the animals from atop Pride Rock. A mid-credits scene shows that Ape has moved to Las Vegas and become a famous stage singer, with Max and Thor being part of his performance as a tree prop.

Cast

  • 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 and George's love interest
  • Thomas Haden Church as Lyle van de Groot, Ursula's wealthy, narcissistic, and bumbling former fiancé who serves as the main antagonist of the film
  • Richard Roundtree as Kwame, the head jungle tour guide during Ursula's visit to Africa
  • Greg Cruttwell and Abraham Benrubi as Max and Thor, two poachers hired as trackers by Lyle
  • Holland Taylor as Beatrice Stanhope, Ursula's domineering mother, who believes that social position is more important than having a loving marriage
  • Kelly Miller as Betsy, Ursula's best friend who has an instant attraction to George
  • John Bennett Perry as Arthur Stanhope, Ursula's supportive father who wishes her to marry for love
  • Abdoulaye N'Gom, Michael Chinyamurindi, and Lydell M. Cheshier as Kip, N'Dugo, and Baleto, respectively. They are Kwame's porters and fellow tour guides.
  • Willie Brown as Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr
  • Lauren Bowles, Samantha Harris, and Afton Smith as Ursula's friends
  • Spencer Garrett and Jon Pennell as Male Guests at Party
  • Noah John Cardoza and Benjamin John Cardoza as George Jr.
  • Mr. Binx, Zakery, Emely, and Crystal as Monkey
  • Tai as Shep, an African forest elephant with the personality of a dog
  • Joseph, Kaleb, and Bongo as The Lion
  • Tookie, Scooper, and Hopper as Tookie, a toco toucan

Voices

  • John Cleese as Ape, a well-educated, talking eastern gorilla who is George's best friend and foster brother
  • Keith Scott as Narrator

Gorilla suit performers

  • Nicholas Kadi as Ape (body)
  • Tom Fisher
  • Jody St. Michael
  • Philip Tan
  • Lief Tilden
  • Robert Tygner as Ape (facial puppetry)

Production

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.

Three male adult live African lions were used in this film. Joseph and Kaleb's trainer was Charlie Sammut of Salinas, California's Monterey Zoo. Sammut temporarily replaced Brendan Fraser as his stunt double for the attack sequence. Bowmanville Zoo's Michael Hackenberger trained Bongo. He would hide behind trees onscreen and jump out from the trees intending to commit an assault on Ursula. Sammut's lions, Joseph and Kaleb would wrestle Sammut himself. Fraser really interacts with a stuffed toy of an adult male lion. Bongo later appears in the scene where George consoles a capuchin that has not been accepted by other capuchins. The lion winking at George from behind the bushes was really an animatronic puppet.

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. Other effects were provided by Dream Quest Images.

In the "Pride Rock" scene, when George presents his son to the animals, CGI work is again used.

The jungle setting was constructed on a sound stage in Playa Del Rey, Los Angeles. The sound stage was 750 feet long, 71 feet high at the peak, 90 feet wide.

Release

Box office

The film debuted at No. 2 at the box office behind Men in Black and grossed $174.4 million worldwide.

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a score of 55% based on 53 reviews and an average rating of 5.5/10. The site's consensus states: "George of the Jungle is faithful to its source material—which, unfortunately, makes it a less-than-compelling feature film". On Metacritic it has a weighted average score of 53% based on reviews from 18 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "B+" on scale of A to F.

Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert gave the film two thumbs up on their show At The Movies; Ebert awarded it three out of four stars, praising it as "good-natured" and complimenting the cast's comedic performances. Siskel wrote, "What sets the film apart is a script that has the good sense to laugh at itself". James Berardinelli thought "the comedy in George of the Jungle is not sophisticated, but it is frequently audacious and irreverent".

It was nominated for Best Fantasy film at the Saturn Awards.

Home media

Walt Disney Home Video released the film on VHS, DVD and LaserDisc in the United States and Canada on December 2, 1997.

Sequel

The film 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.

Giuseppe Zanotti Luxury Sneakers

References

External links

  • Official website
  • George of the Jungle at IMDb
  • George of the Jungle at Box Office Mojo

Text submitted to CC-BY-SA license. Source: George of the Jungle (film) by Wikipedia (Historical)