Review written by: Alex Sandell
What's the story?
Some guy gets adopted by a bunch of monkeys and surfs around the jungle to Phil Collins' tunes.
So how is it? (Get to the point, already)
Not since "The English Patient" have I disagreed with mainstream critics so strongly on a film. With "The English Patient" they said we have a modern "epic." A heart-wrenching romance with some of the most erotic love scenes ever put on film. What I saw was a really boring movie about a bunch of sand and two naked old people in a bathtub. Now, with "Tarzan," the very same critics say we have a sophisticated "Disney" film that is fun, not just for kids, but for the entire family. A movie which pushes the boundaries of animated film, taking it to new heights. What I see is a mediocre movie turned horrid by a bunch of radio-friendly pop songs. What boundaries are "Disney" pushing anyway, besides that of my patience?
Let's see, we've got the misunderstood hero, Tarzan (voiced in generic "Disney" fashion by Tony Goldwyn), there's the compassionate, understanding romantic lead (Minnie Driver, who puts in the best performance of the film) and her small, bumbling dolt of a father with a heart of gold (some guy whose name I didn't feel like looking up). Then there's the comic relief. A spunky gorilla named "Terk" (Rosie O'Donnel in a performance that seems to scream out, "hey, look at me, I CAN get even more annoying, after-all!) and some dipshit klutz of an elephant named "Dildo" (or something along those lines). I think there's also a bad guy thrown in somewhere, but his part is so unnecessary, forced and miniscule that it really doesn't matter, either way.
Nope, I don't see any boundaries being pushed in the character department. Maybe it's in the music?
At least I think that's where the critics are coming from when they say this is a more "mature" "Disney." Instead of watching the characters break out into song (call me old-fashioned, but I actually enjoy that in movies such as "The Jungle Book," "Lion King" and "Beauty and the Beast") and dance numbers, we simply have Phil Collins busting a nut to try and keep up with the pace of the film. It's like taking a time machine, flying back to 1985 and watching the soft-rock segment of MTV for 20 minutes.
Every time the camera would close in on a character during some contrived emotional scene, or another, I literally cringed, knowing a Collins' song would quickly ensue. I would have much preferred someone crank out a "Bear Necessities" type ditty, or even throw in a "Be Our Guest" or two. If "maturity" is really what "Disney" was after, why not forget about a number one soundtrack, for once, and let us have a "Disney" cartoon without all the damn songs? Don't try and do it both ways, "Disney." You can't have your cake and Phil Collins, too.
Although the critics thought a hip eighties performer writing songs that would have been hip in the eighties added some level of sophistication to the film, and pushed all those "boundaries," I still see no boundaries being pushed. Could the boundary pushing be contained in the dialogue or story?
"No" on both counts. The story is as cookie cutter as anything "Disney" has ever done. Actually, when it comes to story, "Tarzan" takes us back at least a decade to the more childlike "Little Mermaid," and looks, well, childish when held up to films like "The Lion King," "Aladdin" or even last year's, "Mulan." As for the humor . . .
I've seen Rosie O'Donnel be funnier in a K-Mart commercial. I have never seen jokes fall as flat as they did in "Tarzan." The audience literally sat silent through most of the "funny" scenes. Not a giggle to be heard. These jokes are so predictable, have been done so many times, and are so "kiddy," that even a 5-year-old will roll his eyes in disbelief. What about the action?
There are a few action scenes which are appealing. Not in a "Star Wars" sort of way, but they'll do. Still, they aren't worth shelling out $8.00 for, and they're definitely not pushing any boundaries.
It seems to me we're out of options. No boundaries have been pushed in this animated tale. Wait a minute, what about the animation itself? All this "canvas 3-D" technology is said to be awe-inspiring. The best Disney has ever done. Has the boundary been pushed? I'd say, "YES!" if I wasn't me and this movie wasn't, "Tarzan."
All we end up getting, for all the hype, is just barely adequate character animation blended in with a pretty decent looking CGI world. It's "A Bug's Life" meets "Tiny Toons," with crummier writing.
So, when it's all said and done, Tarzan pushes no boundaries, throws "Disney" back at least a decade in the story department, and has the worst soundtrack ever to be featured in a "Disney" film. At least Rosie has something to brag about for the next 2 or 3 years. As for the rest of us? There's always "The Phantom Menace."
What does it make you feel like eating?
What are you selling us here???
Phil Collins as the pop star of the 21st Century.
If it won an Oscar, what would it be?
"Worst stab at humor ever placed in a film" - "Tarzan"
On a scale of 1-10?
4 (for those semi-okay action scenes and Minnie Driver's performance)
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Text ©(Copyright) 1999 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved]. If you copy this, without my permission, or even copy the "juicy" format, I'll tell Mickey!
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