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Overall Rating

Awesome: 24.72%
Worth A Look44.94%
Average: 28.09%
Pretty Bad: 2.25%
Total Crap: 0%

7 reviews, 47 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"Disney Gets Back On Track"
4 stars

Tarzan (****1/2) – What an achievement!!! In the recent history of Disney animated features, Tarzan surely ranks as one of the best. In terms of the animation, story, and music, Tarzan should be set aside with Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Aladdin in the animated musical realm.

If the last few Disney films have been lacking something, it’s been in the song department. Mulan, Hercules, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, while succeeding on other levels, really didn’t have any songs for one to take away with them. Only Michael Bolton’s Hercules theme got radio play. Even Pocahontas had only the one song that anyone remembers. But how many can you remember from the last great Disney soundtrack of The Lion King? That score had the help of songwriter Elton John whose Circle of Life and Can You Feel the Love Tonight? Were very memorable alongside the classic Hakuna Matata. Before that there was Aladdin (one of my personal favorites) which had a number of great numbers including A Whole New World, Prince Ali, and Friend Like Me. And who can forget the wonderful Beauty and the Beast soundtrack and the one that started it all (again) The Little Mermaid? Now comes Tarzan which not only takes yet another step in the evolution of animation, but boasts a terrific soundtrack by one of my favorite songwriters, Phil Collins. Ok, maybe I’m a little bit biased in this area – but isn’t one of the qualifications of liking any musical being able to actually like the songs being sung? I’m not a musical lover. With the exception of the Disney animated musicals and, literally a handful of classics, I could care less. But every one that I have liked (Singin’ in the Rain, Little Shop of Horrors, Evita, The Blues Brothers) – I liked or loved the songs or production numbers. And thus is the case with Tarzan. From the opening number of “Two Worlds”, which rivals The Lion King’s opening, and I challenge anyone to come up with a better Disney opening that not only fully sets up the story, but contains breathtaking images and a rousing song, the songs are an invaluable part of the story. One of the best parts of the songs, is that they act as a narrator, instead of having the loin-clothed jungle man belt out a chorus like he was in West Side Story. That would have come off as silly and that’s the last thing you’d want in a story as poignant and touching as this one. Jokes are kept to a minimum here as we are allowed to get into the relationship that Tarzan has with the apes, particularly his mother, leading to an emotional payoff that I was not expecting late in the film, causing me for the first time to actually get choked up during an animated film. The animation also comes back full circle for Disney, who I felt had been slumming off the last couple outings. Mulan had some striking images, but wasn’t all around great, and Hercules had the feeling of one of those cheap Warner Brothers efforts of late. Every time Tarzan swoops through his vines, there’s a sense of exhilaration rarely felt in animated features. They are breathtaking sequences, as are the panoramic views of the jungle which its everlasting waterfalls. The Hunchback of Notre Dame I still rank as the most underrated of the Disney films in terms of animation and story. Only the songs were lacking in that one as I conveniently segue back into the soundtrack. Phil Collins wrote five songs for Tarzan, including the fun “Trashin’ the Camp” moment which gives him the chance to flex his drummer instincts and almost feels like a tribute to Foley artists. Two Worlds is an instant classic as is the current radio favorite “You’ll Be In My Heart” which I’ll get back to. But his other two songs are wonderful as well and work so great into the actual storytelling. “Son of Man” is a terrific coming-of-age/identity song and “Strangers Like Me” continues that trend along with adding a little to the Tarzan/Jane romance which, admittedly, I wanted a little more of, but was well handled nonetheless. Strangely enough, Jane, when viewed from the side looks oddly like a baboon. Subliminal imagery, coincidence, or my mind playing tricks on me? I’ll leave that for the morons who think Star Wars is racist to decide because this film is anything but racist, as one of its central issues subtly deals with racism along with belonging to a family and how one fits into society.

All of these issues propels Tarzan into the upper echelon of recent animated features if not of all-time. The only thing I had issue with was the ending of the film, which had me believing that it would come down to a choice, which it does, but unfortunately, it’s Disney, and it gets to have its cake and eat it too. It was a little disappointing, but as the end credits rolled over a final view of the jungle and Phil Collins’ “You’ll Be In My Heart” played over them, I was reminded what the film was truly about and how it had affected me and isn’t that the mark of a great songwriter and the culmination of a great soundtrack.

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User Comments

10/20/11 Magic A touching story about what constitutes family. Deep Canvas gets a work out here. 4 stars
4/03/09 Dominic CLAYTON reminds me of MERLOCK from DUCKTALES THE MOVIE and GASTON from BEAUTY & THE BEAST. 5 stars
11/17/08 Little Buddy This is Disney's best animated feature film since 1940's FANTASIA. 5 stars
10/31/08 Shaun Wallner Well made. 4 stars
9/11/08 Little Buddy Released after Mulan and Anastasia. 5 stars
7/04/08 Quigley Great Disney film with awesome action and rousing music. Not to be missed. 5 stars
2/04/08 johnnyfog Better than Pocahontas 3 stars
6/20/06 Herculade Superb animation, fast action, great character design. Weak ending though. 4 stars
7/13/05 Manasa Kanthi Nice movie for kids to enjoy, only the kids know than elders however fast action it has. 4 stars
5/13/04 Sean Scanlan Okay 3 stars
3/28/04 john another confused modern Disney film cashing in on the Disney brand name 2 stars
3/01/03 ME A GOOD FILM 5 stars
1/27/02 Andrew Carden Would Have Been Better As A Live-Action Movie...Too Confusing For Kids. 3 stars
4/09/01 Gary Good movie, but not top Disney material. 3 stars
11/29/00 Cristopher Revilla it would've been better if wasn't for those damn FAST action scenes that I didn't get. 4 stars
10/27/00 viking Better than some live action versions I've seen 4 stars
6/22/00 Michael Grimm awesome movie, my favorite disney flick since Aladdin 5 stars
3/27/00 Richard Wright Superb animation and good humour can't quite redeem a by-the-numbers plot and dire music. 3 stars
3/19/00 Jed Good disney fare although villian is underdeveloped. 4 stars
11/29/99 Crystal Fleming Loved it 5 stars
11/07/99 Faith Andrew I loved this movie. I laughed and cried and had my breath taken away on many occasions 5 stars
10/03/99 Britney Awesome movie! Great soundtrack! 5 stars
9/20/99 Weird Andy Disney continues to mind-rape America's kinder. 2 stars
9/06/99 Kenya Another classic story with same old Disney sap. Nice animation, though. 3 stars
8/20/99 Noreen Totally absorbing and beautiful. Though more of a 4 1/2 than a 5. 5 stars
8/19/99 Geoff Finally! Disney's back on track. 5 stars
8/03/99 dbx When the silverback got shot i had to stop myself from shouting all too easy. 4 stars
7/29/99 PhilmPhreak Good Disney fare 4 stars
7/26/99 claire disney did it again. a must-see. 5 stars
7/17/99 buddy Beautiful!! Best film of the year so far. 5 stars
7/14/99 bridgette decent. tarzan was rather repulsive looking though 4 stars
7/11/99 Freyja Beautiful to look at and a great story. Right up there with The Lion King. 5 stars
7/07/99 iyu An Incredible, beautiful achievement. 5 stars
7/06/99 jlgallardo Great animation,except for the faces of Tarzan & Jane. 4 stars
7/01/99 Elizaveta I was actually...touched. ugh, get rid of O'Donnell 4 stars
6/28/99 The Graduate Surprisingly moving, with very dimensional characters. 5 stars
6/22/99 Negative Creep 6 ONSCREEN DEATHS! A DISNEY RECORD. Too bad the death toll didnt include Rosie O'Donnell! 4 stars
6/21/99 Ah Dooey not too bad 5 stars
6/20/99 Melissa Simply breathtaking. Disney has done it again. 5 stars
6/20/99 j.b. This movie looks great. It's a typical disney movie. 4 stars
6/18/99 Mr Showbiz The script is a rote rehash of all the standard Disney elements. 3 stars
6/17/99 Christina Disney's best animated feature since the lion king. 5 stars
6/14/99 Mr Variety Disney’s Tarzan swings, even if it doesn't always soar. 4 stars
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  18-Jun-1999 (G)
  DVD: 18-Oct-2005


  09-Sep-1999 (PG)

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