George Of The Jungle

on July 16, 1997 by Dwayne E. Leslie
It's been a quarter-century since Jay Ward's animated "George of the Jungle" shorts swung onto TV screens. Via today's Cartoon Network, the nostalgic character's show (also featuring Super Chicken and Tom Slick) has been revived. And, via Disney, the loinclothed gent travels along vines to Hollywood to receive his first live-action feature treatment.
   In this adventure, George (Brendan Fraser, who played the neanderthal in "Encino Man") gets to rescue his true love, Ursula ("The Cable Guy's" Leslie Mann) from a lion, from a bad marriage proposal made by a most ineligible bachelor (Thomas Hayden Church) and from her parents. Then, for the first time, he leaves the jungle and goes to the civilized big city, where comic consternation with all its modern appliances awaits--until he must return to the wilds to save his mentor, Ape (voiced by John Cleese), from poachers and have his final confrontation with Ursula's finky fiance.       George's silver-screen debut could mean something to those who grew up watching his comic antics, and the youngest moviegoers might be charmed--plus, pre-teen girls (and maybe some post-teeners) will flock to the movie to see Fraser's admirably toned body. But today's high-tech generation of young males, the movie's key demo, are unlikely to care for George. In the end, the film is a crossbreed of "Encino Man" without Pauly Shore; "Jungle 2 Jungle" without Tim Allen; and the live-action "Jungle Book" without real animals. The only resemblances to the classic cartoon are that trees still get in George's way, Shep the elephant still thinks he is a doggie, the ape named Ape still talks, and his girlfriend's name is still Ursula. Unfortunately, that's not enough to keep this "George" from being a bungle. Starring Brendan Fraser, Leslie Mann and Thomas Hayden Church. Voice by John Cleese. Directed by Sam Weisman. Written by Dana Olsen and Audrey Wells. Produced by David Hoberman, Jordan Kerner and Jon Avnet. A Buena Vista release. Comedy. Rated PG for crude humor and mild violence, language and sensuality. Running time: 92 min
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