Making the Grades
Even though I can watch animated coyotes and wascally hunters get blown to bits, I usually cannot see the humor when a special effects cannon is aimed at live-action humans. Surprisingly, the George Of The Jungle conversion from cartoon to live-action falls short of offending its viewers with continuous animation style violence. With a script so deliberately unbelievable, the movie still views like a cartoon.
The plot is as complex as George's original television show. George happens to discover the exploring Ursula (Leslie Mann) amidst the trees and jungle animals of his home. Having never seen the "female of his species" before, George is confused as to who this "fellow" is. We're not surprised when George and Ursula fall in love, even though Ursula is engaged to the aristocratic (and social klutz) Lyle (Thomas Haden Church). Ursula's love for this "white ape" does surprise Lyle however, prompting him to shoot George.
As Lyle aims his shot, the tension builds, and then the screen fades to black. After a moment, the reassuring voice of the narrator (who is heard throughout the movie) tells us to relax because "nobody ever dies in this movie." Unlike other movies of this genre aimed at young audiences, most of the violence and physical humor in George Of The Jungle is accompanied by a sense of sarcasm, usually with actors doing asides into the camera, or the narrator adding remarks like a circus ringleader.
But parents should still watch for some dangers in the jungle. Slapstick violence runs rampant in the last half hour of the movie when George has to fight two Home Alone style dummy crooks who have kidnaped his friend Ape (John Cleese). The film's sexual content is limited to mild innuendo, although a scene has George wandering out after a shower in even less than his usual brief loincloth.
Yet considering the premise, sexual content and violence could have been much worse -- and some parts of this film are truly funny. So far, cartoon conversions aren't much better than this.