Disney Animated Marathon: Tarzan (1999)


Movie #38 in the Disney Animated Marathon takes us deep into the jungle, well right off the coast actually!

Screenplay By: Tab Murphy, David Reynolds, Jeffrey Stepakoff, Bob Tzudiker & Noni White
Directed By: Chris Buck & Kevin Lima

My brain, heart and maybe even my ass wrestled with Tarzan for a lot longer than I thought I would, or maybe even should. It’s never a good sign when I finish a film and my mind immediately begins checking off what didn’t work. This turn of events led me to believe that Tarzan was going to fall into the subpar category, but then my mind flashed to the elements that I truly loved. My various body parts were once again failing to grab hold of anything substantive, if you split me in half one of me would proclaim Tarzan a nice little film while the other half would scream that Tarzan was a mess of a picture.

The part of me that wants to view Tarzan as a picture worth talking about is the part that is enchanted by the animation. The story in Tarzan is breezy, the characters are one note, and so on and so forth. But, the animation is stellar from beginning to end, as ridiculous as this claim will be, I have no qualms proclaiming Tarzan one of the finest animated films to ever come out of Disney. If one is going to like Tarzan that is why they will like it, the moments of genuine comedy may help as well. Every frame of Tarzan is vibrant and lush with color, and when in motion the animation has an energy to it that is hard to describe.

The part of me that wants to toss Tarzan to the wayside is the part that is niggled by all the little things Tarzan gets wrong. It starts right away when an amazing opening animated sequence is ruined by unnecessary music, the same music that never feels right throughout the rest of the film. There’s the issue of Tarzan’s word play, that never works for me, I don’t have a concrete reason why, but Tarzan learning to talk felt off. Most of my issues with Tarzan can be boiled down to the lack of depth to be found in the story. I was never given any reason to care about anything happening on screen, no matter how delightful Minnie Driver’s voice work was as Jane, I had no reason to care bout Jane, Tarzan or anything that transpired.

The small scale, I’m not busting out the big guns for Tarzan, battle rages within me. I don’t know if I have a suitable answer to whether or not Tarzan is a movie I would classify as worthwhile. I think that if you want to see beautiful animation then you can’t go wrong with Tarzan, but the movie can and will go wrong in almost every other way. On the basis of Tarzan being a light and breezy tale with jaw dropping animation I’d say it is worth seeking out, but make sure you understand that you are in for an empty calorie experience.




4 responses to “Disney Animated Marathon: Tarzan (1999)

  1. I’m surprised that the music was one of your niggles. I liked the way that Tarzan used music to tell the story just as much as the dialogue. It’s something that Dreamworks tried with Spirit and I think it works really well. Makes a change from hacing tha characters on screen doing the singing, instead we have a sort of omniscient musical narrator!

  2. I’ve liked it in other films, but for some reason it wasn’t doing it for me in Tarzan. I blame it all on an extreme dislike of Rosie, yeah, that’s what I’m sticking to!

  3. I didn’t even see this one very long ago but, for the life of me, I don’t remember a damn thing about it.

    Not a good sign. Doesn’t this one have those awful Phil Colins songs?

    Also, how do you evaluate films with body parts. Is that like a sexual thing or does it happen out of necessity for survival or something?

  4. It can be a sexual thing, I am Mr. Sex after all, but you may be on to something with your survival bent. Yep, definitely on to something…

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