(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Tarzan. The song "Two Worlds" by Phil Collins plays throughout)
Doug (vo): When I heard Disney’s next animated feature was gonna be Tarzan, I remember thinking to myself, “Yeah, that sounds about right.” I mean, it is a pretty well known subject matter and it does lend itself to animation, and at the same time, I was wondering if it might have the same impact that Robin Hood had, you know, where people would actually be introduced to it through the Disney version as opposed to other forms of media. I saw the trailers and got really excited for it, and when it came out, a lot of it exceeded my expectations, while other parts...I thought were kind of mediocre. Okay, well, let’s jump right in.
Doug (vo): A family is shipwrecked on an island and they find they have to live on their own. But, unfortunately, a cheetah* comes and kills the parents, leaving only the baby behind. Coincidentally, the exact same cheetah kills the child of an ape family, and wouldn't you know it? They happen to bump into each other. So the mother ape decides she wants to look after the child, but the father ape is not quite as positive. So, growing up, the little boy Tarzan has to not only win out his friends, who he seems to be an outcast in front of, but also his father, who seems to want nothing to do with him. Once he grows into a man, he comes across some more people, a hunter named Clayton, a bumbling old professor, and his daughter named Jane. Jane and Tarzan immediately start to hit it off, and Jane starts to show him all about the human world while he starts to show her all about the animal world. Their romance is born, and, of course, an evil villain is discovered.
- [Actually, it's a leopard, not a cheetah. The mistake is mentioned on the Top 11 Nostalgia Critic F*** Ups Part 3]
Doug (vo): Okay, so what’s good about the movie? Well, the animation. I mean, yeah, look at it. What they can do with Tarzan is unbelievable. Before this, people would just associate him with swinging around on vines, but look at this. He’s practically surfing the trees. That’s really creative.
[The two lead characters are shown]
Doug (vo): Tarzan himself is a pretty decent character. I mean, he does all the stuff you want him to do, he snarls, he sneers, he roars. But he does have those big puppy dog eyes and he does manage to be sentimental at certain moments. Jane is my example of a damsel in distress done right. I mean, yeah, not every character has to be strong, not every character has to be welding a sword, but they have to, at least, be interesting. And Jane, despite the fact that she has to be saved all the time, is interesting. She’s polite, but she’s eccentric. She’s clumsy, but she’s got a good heart. And it sort of makes sense that she'd have to be saved all the time. I mean, she’s out of her environment and this is very much how women were like at that time period. But she still contributes in being the education for Tarzan and also the emotional center. So, yeah, I think she’s a fun character.
[Several supporting characters are shown]
Doug (vo): Rosie O’Donnell is an ape and, yeah, I won’t say ideal casting 'cause, let’s face it, everybody else already has. And while she is...annoying, she’s not as annoying as she could've been. Clayton, and I don’t think I’m giving anything away here, is obviously the bad guy. He’s kind of like Gaston, except minus any of the comedy or charm. He’s not very interesting and his motivation is as boring as the Disney motivations get. It’s just greed. It’s the Pocahontas villain (Governor Ratcliffe) all over again. The motivation is boring, he’s boring, it slows everything down. The rest of the side characters are kind of forgettable, but to be fair, they keep the focus where it should be, on Tarzan.
[Several song montages are shown]
Doug (vo): The songs are by Phil Collins. Wait, what? Phil Collins? What does he have to do with Disney or jungles or anything like that? Well, okay, maybe he’ll write some good songs for the characters to sing. Oh, no! They’re not singing at all! He’s just singing the songs, right the fuck out of nowhere! Every time he starts singing, I expect all the animals to start looking around saying, "What the fuck is that?" Sometimes, the orchestrations around the songs can be nice, but the actual songs themselves, they don’t do a thing for me at all. I guess he sort of sings about what’s going on, but kind of in the same way that, "Hey, this can be played on the radio as well." It’s all too vague. If the song's not totally invested in what it’s singing about, then why should we?
[Various clips, mainly showing Tarzan's conflicts throughout the story, are shown next]
Doug (vo): But I think my main issue with the movie is the conflict that Tarzan is going through, which, don’t get me wrong, it is there and it is addressed, and they do take time out of the movie to look at it, but I just wish they took more time. I was kind of thinking to myself, "Wow. Disney animation and the turmoil of Tarzan, what they can do with this. Half-man, half-animal, I mean, there’s so many different variations you can do with animation." I guess I was sort of thinking of something along the lines of "Hellfire" and, like, visually showing the turmoil that the person is going through, as well as in musical form, you know, as opposed to Phil Collins singing... (Imitates Phil Collins, or rather, his own over-the-top version of Collins) "Ah, Tarzan’s here. Nah! Oh, wait, no. Not Tarzan, because that’d be too specific. Uh, I’m feeling something that this character’s feeling, too. Nah!" (Speaks normally) Fuck Phil Collins! But instead, it’s sort of fighting for room with the comic relief and the villain and, again, the Phil Collins songs and, I don’t know. I guess I just wanted much more of that to be the focus. Even the romance between Tarzan and Jane could’ve been explored a little bit more. I mean, I guess it works all right, but again, it feels like they’re trying to squeeze in too much that’s not totally needed, like his childhood. You could’ve really gone into him trying to fit in and, yeah, they do, but it’s mostly played for laughs.
[Two scenes about to be mentioned and described are shown]
Doug (vo): I like the scene where he tries to cover himself in mud and turn himself into an ape, but that’s only for a few seconds. And the same thing when he meets Jane for the first time. He takes off her glove, touches a human hand for the first time, and that’s a nice scene. But again, it’s only a few seconds. I guess I wanted more of his internal struggle to take up the majority of the film, but then again, it is Disney. I mean, I can’t expect all the characters to be like Frollo in Hunchback of Notre Dame, I mean, maybe I’m just getting spoiled. It’s just this thought that Disney wants to get better and better, and in many respects, they are. So when a Disney film doesn't take advantage of a really great opportunity, especially when it looks like you only have one shot at it, it’s kind of a letdown, especially when it’s just thrown away to the same greedy plot device that the villain provides. You know what? They’re in the jungle. Why do they need a villain? Everything’s already trying to get them. In fact, why didn't they make the cheetah the villain? He’s the one that killed a kid, a pair of parents. Why couldn’t they make that like a Shere Khan-type villain? That would’ve been so much more interesting.
Doug (vo): But again, I’m probably trying to see it for what I want it to be as opposed to what it is. For what it is, it’s good. The animation has some great moments, I do like our two main characters, and there is actually time set aside for character development, just not as much as I would like. On the whole, Tarzan is a good flick to check out. So the next time you see it on DVD, give it a rent. You’ll probably enjoy it.
[The final scene of the film, showing Tarzan and Jane overlooking their jungle home as Tarzan does his famous yell, is shown as "Two Worlds" reaches its end]