of the Jungle 2
a gag about replacing Brendan Fraser in the movie itself,
the publicity materials act as if Mr. Showerman doesn't really
exist. Nowhere on the packaging for George of the Jungle
2 will you see his name, in hopes that people will just
glance at the cover and assume it's the same old George. Even
in the film credits, the villainous Thomas Haden Church gets
top billing, but it's Showerman's movie.
It's out of my system. By his own admission, the studio was
too cheap to pay Fraser, so we've got this Fraser-lite. Showerman
has more of the appropriate jungle king physique, and some
of the dimbulb charm.
could be said for the rest of this sequel.
a lot like the first one, though the narrator (same one) notes
that they're using a different set as well as a different
George. But of course. Disney has perfected the art of direct-to-video
sequels, spending a little less while at worst coming up with
you might think would make the story work is here: more jungle
animals, some animatronic, some CG. Just as in the first,
the film makes excuses to put George in the "real" world to
demonstrate his mystification at big city sophistication.
(Though director David Grossman and writer Jordan Kerner have
him confused with a Flintstone - each modern convenience has
some sort of jungle analog.)
scenes exist solely to make kids laugh at the silliness, because,
well, gorillas in cheerleading outfits are funny, even though
they bear no relation to the rest of the film. Those scenes
that do feed the plot, involving Ursula (now Julie Benz) being
hypnotized into forgetting George, occasionally hit. Allowing
a desperate Lyle VanderGroot (Church) to try to imitate George's
charm both acknowledges and builds upon the first film.
are even a couple of moments that contain subtext - though
he has no interest in gambling, everything George touches
in Vegas turns out to be a winner. His mantra is, after all,
"George just lucky."
also suffers from overstuffing. If one talking ape is funny,
then let's let them all talk! Then add in a celebrity as a
mean lion (Michael Clarke Duncan), but not too mean, because
this is a children's film. The visual reference to The
Lion King worked really well in the first movie, so let's
do it with a lion this time! The writer just doesn't quite
get what worked, so he multiplies the obvious things.
the animals talk (which they didn't in the first movie or
the cartoon series, except for Cleese's "Brother Ape") opens
up the Goofy/Pluto conundrum. How can one species of dog be
sentient and another not? Why the gorillas and the lions,
but not the chimps, elephants and tookie birds? And what kind
of a saint can stay married to someone like me when questions
like these actually occupy my time?
George of the Jungle 2 is not great art, and a lot
of its warmth feels a bit forced. But it is reasonably entertaining.
extras department, Disney introduces its young fans to the
concept of the blooper reel, which somehow feels hollow now
that Pixar has stopped doing it. Yet my daughter laughed really
hard when the kangaroo got his head stuck in the ceiling,
so go figure.
the usual trivia/video game included, set to an afternoon
of vine surfing a la Disney's Tarzan. (George does
do it near the end of the movie, with far more realistic results.)
These set top games get wearing on parents, but they do encourage
active listening in kids, so they're a surprisingly useful
too, are deleted scenes with director's commentary (not an
option for the film itself), something that perhaps older
elementary school kids might find interesting. Mostly relegated
to explaining why the scenes were cut, it's a good introduction
to storytelling. The deleted scenes also showcase the underrated
Church, improvising responses to a flatulence joke. Some are
the DVD skewers the obligatory behind the scenes documentary,
with the film's narrator interrupting the documentary's narrator
to point out how trite the whole thing has become. As a school-age
satire, it works pretty well, and he's right: we've seen enough
about how green screen works.
must get George of the Jungle 2 (and in some households,
such a purchase is a given), it won't be a disappointment.
Unless you really wanted Brendan Fraser to return.