Friday, 10 February 2017

George Of The Jungle

If you haven't noticed by reading the title of this Blog, my name is George.
So let's flash back to 1997, when I was only 11 years old and moving to a new school.
Then this movie came out.
Admit it, you're humming the theme song.
Thing is though, I actually really like this movie. It's funny, has good talent and Brendan Fraser's just so darn likeable.
And he spends most of the movie wearing nothing but a loincloth, so that's a plus.
The movie starts with a narrated flashback, but mixes things up by doing it in a cartoon.
In case you couldn't tell, this movie doesn't take itself seriously.
Since this is a Tarzan spoof, the story should be familiar to you. The plane crashes in the African jungle. Whilst none of the passengers are injured, they lose a baby that was on board.
Reports that it was Elvis's baby remain unconfirmed.
The narrator goes on to explain that George was raised by the jungle residents, but the cartoon goes on to give half the audience an epileptic seizure.
See how half of the screen is blue and the other is black? Imagine the background flashing between those two colours repeatedly.
After the opening cartoon has hypnotised everybody into a trance, the narrator excitedly introduces us to George, the King o the jungle.
The narrator lists off his attributes, such as how he's swift, strong, smart and unconscious.
The tagline for this movie is literally "Watch out for that tree."
Meanwhile, in another part of the jungle, a young explorer named Ursula is filming the animals. Ursula is happy and excitable and, most notably, seems to always be high.
Nobody above the age of 8 is this happy.
Ursula and her guides seem to be having a pretty carefree time, until Ursula's fiance suddenly shows up. His name is Lyle Vandergroot and he is a rich, obnoxious douchenugget of a human being.
This guy.
Lyle has come to take his fiance home, despite the fact that she very clearly enjoys being where she is. Lyle doesn't approve of the idea, but he agrees to go with her up Ape Mountain, along with the two trackers he hired, Max and Thor. Let's get a better look at them.
It's like Bulk and Skull, only with even less brainpower to spare.
Thor is the big and stupid one, while Max is the skinny, actually-able-to-think-more-than-five-minutes-ahead one.
The only people left to introduce are Kwame and the porters, who seem genuinely fond of Ursula.
Kwame's the one in the hat, which indicates his importance.
The three porters speak only in Swahili, so Kwame translates for them. Notice the jeeps and boxes of high-tech equipment. There will be a joke about this later.
That night, as they sit around the campfire, Max makes mention of the legendary White Ape. While Kwame and the porters take the legend seriously, Lyle scoffs and puts it in the same category as Bigfoot.
The porters don't like Lyle.
The group treks through the jungle whilst the narrator gets as Lemony as possible, until they eventually reach Ape Mountain.
They tried calling it Giraffe Mountain, but the name just wouldn't take.
They come to an incredibly old and rickety rope bridge, which Kwame warns them to be very careful about, since half the planks are rotten and may give out beneath them. Lyle doesn't take him seriously, rocking the bridge.
This causes one of the porters to lose his footing and he falls off, presumably to his doom.
I'm going to miss old whatever-his-name-was.
As the porter falls, the narrator reassures the audience that nobody dies in this movie, they just get very big boo-boos.
Lyle starts to get the impression that the porters don't like him very much, so he decides to make amends. He does so in the most insultingly racist way imaginable, by showing them 'Magic fire' and 'Magic pictures'.
We are not meant to like Lyle.
Now you know why I pointed out the jeeps and high-tech equipment.
The porters laugh in Lyle's face and he storms off in a huff, dragging Ursula with him.
While they are trudging through the jungle they are confronted by a lion (I know, lions prefer the Savannah, just roll with it) and Lyle immediately proves his mettle in front of his fiancee.
By tripping over a root whilst trying to run away, knocking himself unconscious.
Luckily, George is there to save the day.
Despite his grand entrance not going as planned, George does distract the lion. He proceeds to fight the animal in a manner that would make Ace Ventura proud.
Although Brendan Fraser's shirtless body is way more impressive than Jim Carrey's.
George brutally pummels the poor animal until it gives up and runs off, though it comes back immediately to eat Ursula, but George swoops in and rescues her.
Lyle wakes up just in time to see George running off with Ursula and he naturally assumes a kidnapping.
But George has merely taken Ursula back to his treehouse so that his friend can look after her.
His friend being Ape, the talking Ape, voiced by John Cleese, who brings her breakfast in bed.
Just an average Sunday morning.
Even after George appears the stress proves too much for Ursula, who assumes the talking Ape is part of a hallucination, then collapses. Ape attempts to explain to George what a 'Woman' is, but finds it difficult to talk about the birds and the bees to him.
Maybe he should explain with a book other than Fifty Shades Of Grey.
When Ursula wakes up again she thanks George for rescuing her, but she also realises that the others are probably worried about her, so she asks for his help in finding them.
So George calls his loyal pet dog, Shep, to help track them down.
The joke is that Shep isn't actually a dog. He's an elephant. But he thinks he's a dog.
Count yourself lucky that he doesn't think he's a lapdog.
They climb upon Shep's back and search for Lyle, but have no luck. As the narrator explains, Ursula eventually forgets her urgency and just chills with George, who takes them to see Tucky-Tucky Bird, for jungle news.
Even the narrator thought that the giant dog biscuit was too much.
Tucky-Tucky tells George that Little Monkey is in trouble, so George goes to help.
Basically, Little Monkey is suffering from an All The Other Reindeer situation, so George sets up a lion for Little Monkey to scare off, so that he may look big and brave in front of the others.
Wait a second... That's the same lion that George 'rescued' Ursula from.
That evening, while Ursula naps, George asks Ape for some advice. Namely, how to make Ursula his Mate (Capital 'M', so that you know what I mean).
Ape provides George with some good advice about all of the mating rituals that he knows. George listens intently and puts these techniques to use beneath the big and expensive waterfall set.
What woman could possibly resist?
Meanwhile, Lyle is starting to grate on the porters. And I use the word 'Starting' quite wrongly. The porters are seriously considering throwing him off the next cliff they pass and I really can't say that I would blame them.
Lyle decides to smooth things over with them and pulls out his English-Swahili phrasebook.
It goes as well as you'd expect.
I can only assume that the book was on sale.
Lyle's attempt only makes them more angry at his ignorance (Can't imagine why) but Max comes to the rescue, offering them 50 'Zimolis' a man in they help him catch the White Ape.
(I tried to find the currency he referred to, but neither Google nor Wikipedia new what it was, so it may have been made up to help keep the location as non-specific as possible.)
Kwame points out that they can't speak English, but to everyone's surprise the bandaged porter pipes up and negotiates for 100 'Zimolis' each.
Meaning that they were probably pretending not to speak English as a means of avoiding having to talk to the tourists.
And I can fully sympathise.
Back with George again and Ape has found a book that might help him woo Ursula.
I would not recommend buying this book if you happen to be below the age of 18.
As an aside, I will never be able to watch Murder She Wrote again.
George and Ursula have a nice moment on the balcony of the treehouse, where George explains how he got the crocodile tooth he wears around his neck (Crocodile had toothache). Ursula has a similar story about the ring she wears on her right hand (Very specifically not her engagement ring), though she got hers from a cereal box when she was a child.
This is a good test for girls to see if men truly like them. Give them something cheap and worthless to wear around their neck. If they truly care about you, they will wear it forever, not because they care about the item, but because it was you who gave it to them.
The nearby gorillas start playing the bongos, so George invites Ursula to dance. Ursula declines due to embarrassment, but struggles to explain exactly what it means to feel embarrassed. She likens it to feeling stupid, but that's something else that George never feels. Sure, he swings into lots of trees and falls out of the treehouse more often than not, but he's never felt stupid about it.
If I looked like that I wouldn't care about feeling stupid either.
The next morning the narrator warns us that Kwame and the others are getting dangerously close. Lyle tries to take charge, but immediately falls face-first into a pile of elephant dung.
This joke may be cliche, but it makes up for it by having the porters explain why it's a classic, before excitedly laughing at Lyle's expense.
How can you not love these guys?
Lyle asks for his novelty gun-shaped lighter so he can have a cigar, but the porter throws him a real gun instead, hoping that he might shoot himself.
But before he can do so, they hear Ursula's voice. Lyle, Max and Thor run off after her, telling the rest to wait.
They sneak up and get a stealthy look at George, but are disappointed when they realise that he's just a human, and not a very threatening-looking one either.
Lyle decides to go first, planning t use his 'Gun' if George tries to start anything.
It's when Max catches sight of Shep that things kick off, since he figures they can make some decent money from his ivory.
They could make two whole chess pieces from those.
Ape spots Thor taking aim and yells a warning.
Problem is, he yells in English, which gets the attention of Max, who realises that he could make a ridiculous amount of money from a talking ape.
George rushes in to save the day, but Lyle takes this as an aggressive act, so he tries to scare him off with the 'Gun'.
But of course, George doesn't know what a gun even is, so he just keeps charging, causing Lyle to pull the trigger in a panic, shooting George in the face from point-blank range.
George got a really big boo-boo from that one.
Ursula decides to use her fabulous wealth and take George to San Francisco to get the best medical attention money can buy, since he suffers so many head injuries that they can't afford to be complacent.
The narrator quickly explains what happens to the other characters. The two poachers got put in prison for attempting to kill an elephant (Though they got released). And Lyle gets imprisoned for attempted murder, with Kwame and the porters helpfully providing some eyewitness testimony.
How they picked him out of the line up is anybody's guess.
And so, at the halfway-mark of the movie, George enters modern civilisation. Ursula has to deal with a phone call from her mother (Who is very excited about Ursula's upcoming marriage to Lyle), so George passes the time by enjoying his first car ride.
Ursula and George have a sweet moment on her balcony before she goes to bed. In the morning, the narrator helpfully explains that, due to the unusual circumstances, Ursula could use a best friend right now. And so her best friend, Betsy, arrives.
Just in time to meet George, as he gets out of the shower.
I think I now understand why my 11-year-old self loved this movie so much.
Betsy approves.
Betsy really approves.
After banishing George to another room so that he can get dressed (And stop distracting Betsy) Ursula explains the situation. Betsy helpfully points out that tomorrow is her engagement party, because nobody had mentioned it up until now due to it not being important to the plot. She also immediately realises that Ursula's got feelings for George.
She also helpfully suggests that she tell her parents the truth, after buying George some clothes.
That's it George, challenge those gender norms you've never heard of.
Something of note: Why does Ursula not have any of Lyle's clothes at her apartment? They're engaged, you'd assume that he'd stay over every now and then.
Anyhoo, Ursula and George go clothes shopping, helpfully discovering that George looks pretty good in Armani.
"Pretty darn good."
I swear they only hired him due to how cheeky his smile is.
As they walk down the street the narrator happily explains that every story has one really big coincidence and this one is no different, having Ursula's mother notice them walking down the street, just as she tries to get a hold of Lyle at his workplace, only to discover that he's still in Africa.
Hey look, it's the mother from Two And A Half Men.
She later attempts to phone Ursula and get some answers, but it's George who answers the machine.
George sits in Ursula's apartment, where he has been told to wait until she finishes work.
Unfortunately, he watched a coffee advert and gets the bright idea to try some.
Straight from the can.
I would not recommend this.
George then watches the weather report, which tells him that since it's going to be such a lovely day, he should go outside.
So he does.
Let's come back to that later.
Meanwhile, Ursula is preparing to tell her father about what happened in Africa, but he gets distracted when he sees something on the news.
What kind of a man would watch the news whilst at a surprise party for his daughter?
Wait, he's a banker?
A parachuter has gotten himself in trouble halfway up the Bay Bridge. Luckily, a certain someone had taken it upon himself to climb the very large rope bridge.
I wonder who that might be?
Seeing this, Ursula rushes to the bay and commandeers a tugboat, presumably by throwing money at the Captain until he agreed.
George rescues the parachuter, but gets caught up in the parachute himself, just as a strong wind drags it away.
But wouldn't you know it, Ursula's tugboat is on hand to provide a safe landing.
Meanwhile, back in the jungle, Max and Thor manage to locate Ape and tranquilise him. But before he falls asleep, he instructs Tucky to find George.
Because a Toucan can fly from Africa to San Francisco, it's not like it's the other side of the planet or anything.
To be fair though, he can't exactly send a fax.
Back in America, Ursula finally manages to tell her parents that she doesn't want to marry Lyle.
Her parents take it very well.
Her father is genuinely understanding and supportive of his daughter's decision.
Her mother, on the other hand, isn't. She immediately rants about how many important people were coming to the party to meet Lyle.
I get the distinct impression that Ursula only intended to marry Lyle because her mother talked her into it.
In fact, her mother has all the hallmarks of a sociopath.
Her first response to finding out that Lyle shot someone and that Ursula doesn't want to marry him because of it?
"How could you do this to me?"
Yep, her first response is to think about her own situation.
Her daughter's needs and wants? Secondary concerns. If they just happen to line up with what she wants then that's an added bonus. If they don't, then they're not important and should be discarded.
Not that I've been hurt by sociopaths in the past and have been studying their behaviour or anything. Why would you think that?
Back to the slapstick.
George gets to meet the parents.
I've said that a lot this movie.
At the party Beatrice (Ursula's mother) brown-noses with important people, but for some reason lots of the female guests are more interested in watching the horses.
Gee, I wonder why?
As the party enters the night, Beatrice asks for a quiet chat with George. As can be expected, she's trying to persuade him to go back home. Because she doesn't want him spending time with her daughter. There're two types of people in this world, people Beatrice thinks are good enough to be near her daughter, and people who aren't. And if they aren't the right kind of people then they should just go back to their own countries.
If it sounds like I'm trying to draw some racism/classism parallels well, it's because they're right in front of me.
Heck, Beatrice even gives a speech about people being like zebras and leopards. Spots and stripes.
I get the feeling that Beatrice is the kind of person who doesn't understand why she can't say the 'N' word in public.
Oh, and she threatens to remove George's reasons for wearing a loincloth if he doesn't leave, so there's that.
I don't know what the steak tartar thing's about, but I assume it means something.
That night George is sitting morosely on the balcony when he gets a visitor. It's Tucky-Tucky Bird, who informs him that Ape was ape-napped.
George immediately leaves to save Ape, even though it means having to leave Ursula behind.
It's quite a sad moment.
Ursula tells her parents what happened, and Beatrice is of course rather approving of this event. Though she does accidentally say something about stripes and spots which tips Ursula off. When she attempts to defend herself she says something else which backfires on her.
She mentions the idea that Ursula may be in love with George.
This causes Ursula to finally realise her feelings, which makes her rush off to tell him.
In case you hadn't noticed, her role in this movie is exactly the same as her role in Two And A Half Men.
As Beatrice storms after Ursula, her husband says to himself that she's a pain in the ass. This may explain why he doesn't appear in the sequel.
Meanwhile, George finally arrives in Africa, in style.
"Next time, George get bigger box."
George prepares for the long trek back to the treehouse with a bit of product placement.
What do you think cost more? This, or their deal with Space Jam?
Which one do you think they regret?
Meanwhile, Max and Thor are still trying to get Ape to civilisation.
You may wonder how it's taken them so long, since they tranquilised him days ago. Well, it turns out that they had been following a trail that Ape had set up to help keep the treehouse hidden. It circles around Ape Mountain seven times before leading back the way they came until they arrive at the treehouse again.
This upsets Thor, who has a go at the Narrator for not helping them.
Yes, this is the kind of movie where the villains chat directly to the Narrator, and yet they still don't think to give up their evil ways.
In their world, the Narrator is essentially God. You'd think they'd at least stop and reflect on their lifestyle choices a little bit.
Luckily, George had just arrived at the treehouse mere moments ago, thus proving that this movie has more than one big coincidence.
Don't worry, more are on their way.
George attempts to fight Max and Thor, but he is outnumbered and exhausted from his run.
Also, George is an idiot.
The two crooks manage to outfight George because, despite their overall idiocy, they have never been shown to be incompetent. They repeatedly slam George into the cage until Ape tells George to stop fighting fair.
So George starts fighting dirty.
Man getting kicked in nuts, a classic of physical comedy.
Shep helps out as well, using his trunk to fire coconuts at Max as though they were cannonballs. Max grabs a gun to shoot back, but gets distracted when Ursula arrives via vine, ready to kick ass and take names.
She does manage to take out Max before crashing into a tree though.
Ursula tries to talk to George, but he asks her to wait a moment whilst he punches Thor unconscious.
Ain't context a wonderful thing?
George and Ursula get a quiet moment together and she prepares to tell him how she feels, but they get interrupted by the last big coincidence.
Remember this guy?
 Lyle got out of jail, presumably due to being incredibly rich. He then joined an obscure religion which gives him legal authority to perform marriage ceremonies.
Oh, and he also hired a bunch of mercenaries.
Meet Gunner, Gunter, Hans, Jans and Phil.
The mercenaries seem vaguely European, though I can't pinpoint anywhere. The names would (Mostly) suggest Scandinavian, but they speak with something approaching a French accent. I have a feeling they may be a very subtle parody of the terrorists from movies like Die Hard.
The mercenaries drag George towards the cage, but Little Monkey uses the bongos to call in some backup.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Gorillas?
Sadly, we don't get to see the fight scene, only the aftermath.
Trust me, you don't want to know how Shep dispatches these villains.
George chases after Ursula, but Lyle has already gotten her to his raft. Unfortunately, Lyle is an abject moron and failed to take into account the white water rapids that the river leads to.
Lyle isn't very smart, is what I'm saying.
George spies something that can save Ursula, but it will require the biggest swing that George has ever done in his life. But for Ursula, he's willing to do it.
George swings on the vine, somehow managing to achieve Mach speed as he does so. He eventually hits a rather thick tree so hard that the bark on the other side shatters in a comical George shape.
Naturally, George receives some very big boo-boos, but is otherwise unharmed.
Not even a nosebleed.
The tree cracks and falls across the river, allowing George to pull Ursula to safety.
Lyle isn't so lucky, as his raft enters a dark cave. he thinks Ursula's still with him, so he continues the marriage ceremony.
To an ape.
Is the bad guy getting raped by a gorilla a cliche yet? It happened in Ace Ventura 2 as well.
With Ursula safe and the bad guys disposed of, everybody gets a happy ending. George marries Ursula, with all of the good guys showing up to attend, even Kwame and the porters.
How did that camel even travel that far?
Oh, and if you think this movie's ending without a Lion King reference, they you sir/madam/other are sorely mistaken.
And since this is a Disney movie, they don't even have to worry about getting sued.
This movie was hilarious. The jokes were well-crafted, the acting was superb and the characters were genuinely likeable. The puppetry on Ape holds up even to this day, being incredibly expressive.
Plus, we got copious amounts of shirtless Brendan Fraser, so that's a plus.

Next week, things continue to be daft trend, but this time in the Wild West.
It's time for Blazing Saddles.

1 comment:

  1. I've always hated those mercenaries, but not as much as I hate Lyle.