I must admit to a childhood fascination with Tarzan. It was my big brother's favorite show, but I tagged along when he watched TV with his friends. Thus, at an early age I became well versed in the things that are truly important to the opposite sex: hair on your chest and a swinging lifestyle. I was eager to see this movie, just to test the common perception that Tarzan still offered men the opportunity to identify with the King of the Apes (a small triumph).
It might be noted that the publicists for Tarzan were kind enough to show the movie to all the critics at the same time as a premiere full of normal people. You ask why? Because a room full of critics going ape was more than they could deal with.
So there we were, hanging with pedestrians, gumming our jujubes, waiting for Disney to keep the faith, yes, sirree, a faith as shiny as a new horseshoe, our faith in the mythic Tarzan. What that might be, you ask? Well, life in the vineyard ain't bad. If you live a minimalist life.
The animation shines! The pacing is bouncy. The jungle was never so green. But the characters! Ooowww, where did they go wrong? And the story. Well, maybe we'll find it under a leap somewhere.
Glaring error #1: Cheetah isn't even in the movie! Cat lovers, arise!!!
Glaring error #2: Mommy dearest, why is Phil Collins singing Glen Close's song? The mother and child reunion - the absolute essence of the story - needs to be a great moment. The movie's message, which is the kernal of nearly every wild-child story, is that once we recover our roots, we can restore what we nearly lost, but only at great cost. (Maybe they gave up Cheetah, grrr.)
Glaring error #3: Tony Goldwyn as the ape man ain't foolin' nobody...he's got less hair than a boiled egg.
Glaring error #4: Tantor, the great elephant and faithful friend of Tarzan is like a refugee from a Bud-Lite commercial. Pink, and in the glowing, almost 3-D of the movie - well, with friends like this....your worst enemy is comic relief.
Glaring error #5: Minnie Driver is too winsome, she warms Jane up like a rocking chair cushion. My Jane was always more Jayne Mansfield and able to truly tempt Tarzan to stay in the wicked world.
Glaring error #6: Tarzan's opposition isn't sufficiently worthy. Knocking off these guys is more like catching fish than spearing wild bores. Tarzan wasn't a vegetarian, thank you.
Glaring Errors 7, 8, 9, and 10: Rosie O'Donnell, Rosie O'Donnell, Rosie O'Donnell, Rosie O'Donnell. The woman should not be allowed near a camera, much less a mike.
OK, I'm not completely heartless and probably a terrible mother for getting all over Disney like a smelly diaper. I liked the score. But I go to the movies to WATCH, not to listen. And I think they invested too much in cute casting of voices and not enough in making the story work as well as, say, Little Mermaid.
Here's what's really wrong with the picture: there's an old barroom joke about Tarzan coming home to Jane, and he's whupped, he needs a drink. Jane pours him one, he downs it, and he asks for another. Jane obliges, he gulps that down, and says, set me up again, Jane. Jane is getting worried, and she says, "Tarzan, you're not yourself, what's wrong?" "Jane," he says, "it's a jungle out there."
Sorry, Mr. Eisner, it's a jungle in here.
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