New Films: George of the Jungle (U) Director: Sam Weisman Starring: Brendan Fraser

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Indy Lifestyle Online
"George, George, George of the Jungle..." With all the subtlety of the bush telegraph beaten out by George's bongo-playing simian pals, Disney's live-action cartoon thunders its way onto the screen.

A squeaky-clean parody of the Tarzan story, the film is directed with ultrabrite brio by Sam Weisman, but owes much of its magic to such computer- generated delights as a cultured talking ape (voiced by John Cleese), prowling lions and Shep, the elephant that thinks it's a dog.

Brendan Fraser is the buffed beefcake in the "butt flap", an innocent White Ape hunted by evil English poacher Greg Crutwell as an exotic scalp, and Leslie Mann's trekking heiress as a future mate. Brimming with energy and wide-eyed naivete, Fraser is like the idiot brother to Christopher Lambert's Tarzan in Greystoke, all softly permed hair and child-like enthusiasm.

The story is slim, with Mann's expedition party happily wobbling across rope bridges and moving through scenery from The Land that Time Forgot until George rescues our trim heroine from Mann-eating lions. The pair fall in love, Mann later dragging George back to the urban jungle of San Francisco for more fish-out-of-water fun.

With plenty of slapstick for the children, and arch narration for the parents, the film is as pumped, shiny and spectacular as George's pecs, but just a mite charmless.