Buena Vista/Buena Vista .
R4 . COLOR . 83 mins .
PG . PAL
Poor Jay Ward. The creator of the devilishly clever The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon series of the ‘60s hasn’t had his legacy treated particularly well by movie studios the past decade or so. Perhaps surprisingly, the first cinematic take on George of the Jungle, the klutzy Tarzan-like swinger, came out best of them all; managing to retain the dumbness-versus-cleverness quota of the original and bringing the 2D world to one that was 3D with reasonable aplomb.
But that had Brendan Fraser up its sleeve – which loincloths don’t have, so perhaps that was a really stupid thing to say.
Anyway, he wasn't able to make it to reprise his role of George here, in fact neither were those who portrayed his sweetheart Ursula or her mother Beatrice. Hmm, does anybody smell a cheap-arsed straight-to-video sequel?
OK, so it may sound so-far-so-bad, however with a quite faithful George spirit still alive and well, and with some engaging self-referential humour towards the whole lack-of-Brendan situation, this sequel actually manages to equal its predecessor – we’ll allow you to make of that what you will.
"Watch out for that… tree!"
Geez mate, how many times do we have to warn you?
Chris Showerman fills George’s loincloth with bulges in all the right places, and Julie Benz befits the blonde bombshell requirement of Ursula (although seeing Darla the evil vampire canoodling with George never quite sits right for this unashamed Angel fan). Being set five years after the last instalment, we’re ‘blessed’ by the existence of the contractually obligated Disney Cute Kid™ (Angus T. Jones), and there’s the addition of a (groan) boxing kangaroo, but otherwise all is much as it was left – severely stupid and puffed with pride at such.
So what about the plot? Hahahaha! Right. Oh, you’re serious? Well, OK. Ursula’s former fiancé, Lyle (Thomas Hayden Church), wants her back, so in cahoots with her meddling mother, who simply cannot stand seeing her daughter slumming it in the wilds, a plan is hatched to lure them back to civilisation, involving a hypnotist as well as a pair of Xena and Gabrielle wannabes. Not content with ruining George’s love life, Lyle also has plans to bulldoze the Bukuvu and Ape Mountain to make way for a resort - and no possibility of Ursula returning to her wild, wild life. Meanwhile, rumblings other than those of Shep are afoot in the jungle, with a mean lion vying to become king, while George’s brother Ape is ensconced in Vegas building up a rather rapacious gambling debt as he’s been unable to avoid the lure of the cards. Cut those sentences into as many pieces as you wish, jumble them all up then sticky-tape them together and no matter which way you look at it you should have the gist of this little puppy.
Delivered deliciously in delightful widescreen-enhanced 1.78:1, the look of George is, erm, gorgeous. No nefariously nitpickable nasties are noticeable, save for some slight shaky shimmer on shome occasions, with colour coming colourfully to creation and detail decidedly detailed.
Dolby Digital 5.1 doesn’t do diabolical deeds, however it’s far from foundation-flaunting either. The subwoofwoof sends some shivers shaking stuff silly, sometimes, while the rear of the room really resists regurgitating recorded roars regularly. Silly sound effects proliferate prolifically, stupid speech is perfectly purveyed and sonic synch is pugnaciously precise (perhaps apart from pesky puppets pontificating).
The Presidents of the USA provide their take on the theme (and stuff up all this carefully constructed, albeit aggravating alliteration) and the sundry stringy soundtrack snippets are decidedly Disney daggy.
Excitedly expecting expansive extras exploding everywhere? Well don’t. Moving menus are married to some supposedly special stuff, of which the Behind the Treesfeaturette is the biggest bombshell. At 8:52 it’s blissfully brief, with a pleasing piss-taking attitude to the excruciating EPK fare usually foisted forcibly upon us.
Five minutes of deleted scenes with optional commentary serve up seven snippets which are hardly hot, totalling 5.05. Jungle Bungles is 35 seconds of boring bloopers and finally a Vine Surfinggame is a stultifying stupid trivia test which may appeal to the kiddie contingent.
Those who loved the off-the-wall spirit of the original George of the Jungle mini-cartoons which accompanied Rocky and Bullwinkle’s adventures should get off on the reasonably authentic vibe of chaos at work here, held together for the most part by the dastardly ditzy interruptions of The Narrator (Australia’s Keith Scott) at every possible turn. Much of the klutziness, the piss-taking, the outrageous silliness and fun more or less finds its way into this, and as far as Disney fare goes as long as you’re not a Boring Old Fart™ adult, but rather an In Touch With Inner Child™ one, you’re sure to have the odd giggle or three. And if all else fails, there are always the fart jokes…
Jack & Sarah "Proving that simplicity is no obstruction to brilliance, this is an ultimately sweet (but not sickeningly so) tale that gives all those bigger English films out there a more than respectable run for their money... "