George of the Jungle 22003

Director: David Grossman
Stars: Thomas Haden Church, Julie Benz, Christina Pickles, Kelly Miller, Angus T. Jones
Genre: Comedy, Family, Adventure
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 87 minutes

Disney scored an unexpected hit with this goofy live-action remake of Jay Ward's Saturday-morning cartoon, a zippy Tarzan parody with topical references and absurd gags. Disney's big-screen version, starring Brendan Fraser as the sweet, hopelessly inept jungle hero, puts the emphasis on slapstick and silly fun. The klutzy hero, still swinging into trees and stray boulders, saves a lost L.A. socialite (Leslie Mann) on safari and, completely smitten, leaves behind his tree-house home and simian best friend (an Oxford-accented ape voiced by John Cleese) to accompany the socialite back to the concrete jungle of LA, much to the frustration of her conniving fiancé (Thomas Haden Church). Fraser's enthusiastic performance enriches our hunky hero with endearing innocence and energetic pluck. The humor is spotty and consistently more juvenile than the original cartoon, but the unending parade of visual gags (including George's pet elephant Shep, transformed into an overexcited six-ton puppy by inventive digital effects) keeps the tone light, frothy, and winningly fun. --Sean Axmaker

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