Disney’s “original” animated Tarzan surprised me. It was better than I’ve come to expect from a Disney feature, and I was happy to pick it up on DVD for the kids to watch. Can Disney do it again? Does Tarzan & Jane come anywhere close to the standard set by its predecessor?
After the release of the original movie, people at the Mouse House decided to milk the Tarzan franchise for all they could. There is apparently a Saturday morning cartoon based on the continuing adventures of Tarzan, and it is every bit as bad as you might expect. Unhappily, the recent direct-to-video release of Tarzan & Jane isn’t really a sequel to the Tarzan movie, but a few slapped-together episodes of the TV show.
Inexplicably, there is a trading post on Tarzan’s island, where the proprietor lives by selling, um, I’m not sure to, um, I don’t know. He does have a thing for Jane, though, which provides some sort of ongoing conflict. Strangely, while we learn in this movie that Tarzan can sense in an instant the character of a man, he has no problem whatsoever with the slimy trader.
This “movie” is bad. The animation is not only not up to the standard of the first movie, it is barely acceptable as a Saturday morning cartoon. The vocal characterizations are a shallow mimicry of the first movie, and the plotting and characterization are poor as well. There is nothing about this movie that makes it the least bit watchable. How IMDB records a glowing endorsement from a Disney-groupie a week before the movie is even released is unclear, but I think that person is either eight years old, or on crack, or both.
It isn’t even a movie, it’s a series of “flashbacks” to very short vignettes that I would suspect of being culled directly from the Saturday morning show if it were not for the anamorphic widescreen presentation. Even with three or four epsiodes strung together and some filler material, it still barely reaches 70 minutes.
Sadly, my four-year-old daughter likes this one better than its precursor, though my three-year-old shows the good sense to prefer “the old Tarzan.” I hope that the four-year-old is just going through a phase. Watching it twice a day is getting old fast.
Tarzan & Jane – Disney (DVD)
Genre: Animation, Children
Watchability: For an adult, grin and bear it. My kids (1, 3 & 4) all like it.
Philosophy: The “noble savage” myth crossed with the usual anti-European stuff, milder than expected.
Suitability: It’s G-rated, with the usual Disney junk.
(This review originally appeared at W6 Daily.)