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Thursday, 13 July 2017

Retro Review: Jungle 2 Jungle (1997)

Jungle 2 Jungle
Cast: Tim Allen, Martin Short, Sam Huntington, JoBeth Williams, Lolita Davidovich
Genre: Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $59 million 

Plot: A man learns he has a 13-yr-old son who was raised in the jungle and brings the boy to New York City, turning his life upside down in the process

'Hardly A Rumble In The Jungle'

Released nine months before the live-action remake of The Absent-minded Professor in the shape of Flubber, Disney was also responsible for this remake of the French movie, 'Un Indien Dans Le Ville', translated as 'Little Indian, Big City'. Starring comedian and Home Improvement and Toy Story's Tim Allen, 1997's Jungle 2 Jungle was another one of Disney's live-action offerings following on from the likes of the 101 Dalmations, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, The Mighty Ducks and Hocas Pocas. Even though I've yet to see the original film, what I do realise that as I was watching this movie, Jungle 2 Jungle was literally absent of wit, genuine humour and that it is downright....bad. 

A Wall Street stockbroker named Michael Cromwell goes to a South American island to finalise/tie up loose ends with his divorce and soon finds out he has a son, Mimi by his soon-to-be ex-wife and local tribes for the past 12 years. Once Michael and his son are back in the city, Michael attempts to adopt Mimi.

I mean, from what I perceive of this film, it's like a version of Coming to America meets native tribe boy, with the fish-out-of-water theme with a hint of Tarzan yet without the charm, hilarity and likeability of the characters.

The casting is not so great, with Tim Allen & Martin Short coasting through the material without much spontaneity and added enjoyment and the actor playing Mimi didn't impress me very much. The actors just don't work well together and the script is not the least bit interesting or entertaining enough. But for Mary PoppinsFlubber, Hocas Pocus, Cool Runnings, D2: The Mighty Ducks, Disney always had and still have this tendency to produce and release such mediocre and poor live-action films, in addition to their direct-to-DVD animated efforts. & Jungle 2 Jungle is no exception.

The plot itself is not very engaging and its conception and direction is so ponderous and also so boring. The title of the movie implies that the jungle is the jungle, but also New York City is a jungle in itself also. 

The dart gun into the cat thing wasn't as amusing as I'd thought it would be and alas, the comedy and humour were completely flat and not effective at all.

I also personally thought that Tim Allen was not the ideal choice for the main role; seeing him here, he lacks the charisma and screen presence to really bring his character to life - that and he is too deadpan and in the hands of say, either, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey or perhaps Mike Myers, who is most known to audiences for Austin Powers, they would have brought out more of that energy and wackiness that Tim Allen lacks and of which a comedy film of this nature needs. 

What also damns this film is the distinct lack of physical comedy; the so-called humour here arises from unfunny scenarios and dialogue, poor and unamusing slapstick and characters crashing into things. There are cheap shots aimed at gay people in the fashion industry, as well as a needless subplot involving Martin Short's character selling coffee to the Russian Mafia. 

The original French film wasn't well received and it did badly back in 1995, and with that in mind, Disney should have taken note of this. Then again, with better and funnier writing, a better and funnier male lead than Tim Allen and more slapstick and physical comedy, Jungle 2 Jungle would have been better. 

Final Verdict:

With former SNL member Martin Short failing to ensue hilarity and the movie lacking in moments of hilarity, along with a star lead who doesn't possess the energetic presence to lift this movie in Tim Allen, Jungle 2 Jungle is a Disney box office bomb of a family film - not in terms of its financial success, but a bomb as a comedy, as it is neither funny, witty or charming enough.  

Plain and simple, though the sentimentality wasn't overdone, this effort was truly bad and the story was stale and not very entertaining, so much so it was impossible for me to enjoy. 

By offering very few surprises, Jungle 2 Jungle was a movie that was difficult and too weak to get excited for. 


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