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Toon Talk: George of the Jungle 2
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by Kirby Holt (archives)
October 27, 2003
Kirby reviews the direct-to-video sequel George of the Jungle 2.

Toon Talk
Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt

(c) Disney

George of the Jungle 2 DVD
Watch Out For That 2!!!
The original 1997 live action feature adaptation of the kitschy kids classic George of the Jungle turned out to be a charmingly delightful diversion despite its ludicrous origins … after all, this was the late-60s TV cartoon from Jay Ward which, unlike his subversive Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, was best known for its poundingly repetitive theme song then for anything else.

A large factor in the simple-minded success of the first cinematic George was in its star, Brendan Fraser; he (along with the equally game Leslie Mann as Ursula) embodied the original film with a refreshing innocence that was hard to resist, even with all that cartoony chaos surrounding them. In other words, the fact that this George was so unexpectedly good was a happy accident, resting, as it was, almost solely on the shoulders of its leading man.

So it was with some trepidation that I approached the sequel, George of the Jungle 2, for, unable to secure Fraser for a return to the jungle, the studios demoted the film to direct-to-video status and, apparently, tossed a reasonable budget and any semblance of a clever, original script out the window as well.

Dumbed down to the lowest possible level, the sequel boasts a threadbare plot (something about Ursula’s mother and ex-fiancée conspiring together to get her out of Africa) that nevertheless is padded out to an seemingly endless ninety minutes with more pooh-pooh, kaa-kaa and toot-toot jokes then a whole season of South Park. No doubt about it, for better or worse, this one’s strictly for the rugrat crowd (and the not very smart ones at that).

Adding insult to injury, the film is constantly condescending to the fact that there’s a new ape-man in the jungle; almost immediately, the script has the “new George? (newcomer Christopher Showerman) telling the audience that “studio too cheap to pay for Brendan Fraser? (which is most likely false; Fraser probably took one look at the script and decided he’d rather make a movie with Jenna Elfman instead).

And from the looks of things, they were also too cheap to pay for any decent CGI elephants or gorilla costumes for that matter, not to mention an original score: in addition to the Presidents of the United States of America’s cover of that excruciatingly unforgettable theme song, full passages from Marc Shaiman’s score from the first film are shamelessly recycled here as well. Throw in a lame rehash of the Lion King parody, and the film’s only so-called original ideas remain an obvious (and obviously low rent) Tarzan tree-surfing take-off, an unfortunately ill-timed Siegfried and Roy joke, and the none-to-subtle sight of gorillas lighting their farts on fire (you read that right … lighting their farts on fire. “Kids, don’t try this at home!?).

And oh, wouldn’t it be easy to blame it all on newbie Showerman; after all, this model/actor’s only recognizable previous credit was as a contestant on that gross-out reality show Fear Factor, of all things; thus he’s definitely not of the movie star caliber that Fraser was during the first film. And the catty could even say he owes most of his performance here to his body waxer and wig stylist.

But, amazingly, by the third Brendan Fraser joke, Showerman has endeared himself into the role with his own take on Fraser’s own engaging goofiness; one could even say he fills Fraser’s/George’s … loincloth … quite well.

Toon Talk Rating: D+

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