George of the Jungle | Chicago Reader

George of the Jungle

Brendan Fraser is convincingly dumb and charming as a man raised by apes in the tradition of the TV cartoon character created by Jay Ward. As king of the jungle, George keeps order by bungling, then manages to rescue a woman in distress (Leslie Mann), who falls for him though she's engaged to the villain. A perfect use of digital technology, this live-action movie makes everything in front of the camera as malleable as cartoon imagery and exposes the limitations of the notion that cartoony violence gives impressionable viewers a distorted sense of reality. The story's references to its own contrivance are plentiful and multilayered in the spirit of Ward's 1967-'71 series, and they reveal an endearing comic fantasy in which an actor can appear to whirl a lion around like a lariat without harming anyone. John Cleese's elocution is genteel and appealing as he provides the voice of an ape named Ape who keeps George's tree house tidy and schools him in the ways of love. Written by Dana Olsen and Audrey Wells; directed by Sam Weisman.

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