(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Disney's first Tarzan movie)
Doug (vo): One of the more boring scenes from the original Disney's Tarzan is when you see him as a little kid. That is to say, it should have been interesting. Seeing a half-boy, half-ape trying to figure out where he belongs should be...downright fascinating. But instead, it's just some unfunny slapstick thrown in with distracting Rosie O'Donnell ape and, aside from a scene where he puts mud on his face trying to figure out what he is, it's just kind of generic.
(Now we are shown clips of Tarzan II)
Doug (vo): So, as you can imagine, I wasn't especially excited to see Tarzan II, which is already falsely advertised. It's not "Tarzan II", it should be called "Young Tarzan". It's a prequel*. But, nevertheless, I put it in and...I'm not gonna lie, I really like this one. Yeah, not kind of enjoyed, not found okay, but was legitimately charmed and entertained by this. Tarzan II. Why Tarzan II? In fact, why 101 Dalmatians II? Why are these the two Disney sequels so far I think are actually pretty good? These films should be nothing, but they're actually really delightful.
- Actually, since it takes place during the original, it's a midquel. A prequel would be set before the original.
Doug (vo): The story, like I said, focuses on Tarzan when he was a little boy. He's once again finding it hard to fit in and figure out where he belongs. But things get even tougher when he's separated from his family and they think he's dead. Convinced that his family and his mother would be better off without him, he leaves the tribe to try and figure out where he belongs. Along the way, he comes across some colorful characters: a pair of brothers, played by Ron Perlman and Brad Garrett, their mother, played by Estelle Harris, and an old ape pretending to be a monster, played by George Carlin. He befriends the old ape and makes a deal that if he keeps convincing everybody that he's a monster, he'll help find out what he is. While that's going on, Terk, the elephant and his mother all are trying to find him, while also trying to escape some beautiful but deadly landscapes.
Doug (vo): So the important thing to emphasize about this one is that it is a smaller story. It takes place when he's a little kid, so there's a lot of little kid stuff, there's a lot of slapstick, there's a lot of cute humor. But as slapstick and little kid stuff goes, it's...really quite charming.
(The characters about to be mentioned are shown)
Doug (vo): I like these characters. I like these two brothers and their mother and how they're all kind of dimwitted, but they're kind of threatening, too, and they kind of go back and forth. I like the old ape and the relationship he shares with Tarzan. I like how they both value the simple things, and they kind of do these nice little things for each other, and...I don't know. I just really felt a nice connection between them. And speaking of which, that's all the movie really is: it's just watching these really good connections work off of each other. Most of the voice actors are back, except for the kid roles, and that's including Rosie O'Donnell. She doesn't play the younger version of herself, and thank God, because the voice actress they got (Brenda Grate) is a million times better. It sounds like a real kid, and she works off of Tarzan like a real kid. It doesn't feel like a forced celebrity cameo, it feels like there's a real friendship.
(Scenes mostly focusing on Tarzan are shown)
Doug (vo): The turmoil Tarzan has to go through is really well done. This is the kind of stuff I wanted to see in the original movie. Now, don't get me wrong. We do get a little bit of it when he's an adult, but this movie tends to dive more into it. The whole film is about him trying to find his identity. That's his goal, that's the beginning, middle and end.
(Several images of the first movie are shown)
Doug (vo): In the other movie, you got this bad guy who's trying to kill all the gorillas, and you got him just doing some dumb comedic stuff with Rosie O'Donnell, and, yeah, I liked it, and it's a bigger story, but it didn't always work. There were a lot of times where it fell short and it felt a little forced.
(Back to Tarzan II footage)
Doug (vo): Here, everything kind of flows very naturally. There's no one bad guy, there's no forced musical numbers, there's no awkward comedy. Everything that needs to be done is done perfectly and serving the story. Even the Phil Collins songs, which...yes, there are a few...are scaled down a lot. I'm thinking I'm gonna hear them all throughout this movie and they're gonna piss me off, but there's only a couple. When the movie needs a quiet moment, it has a quiet moment. When Tarzan's mom needs to just sit there missing her son, it lets her sit there and miss her son. You don't need Phil Collins coming out saying, (Imitates Phil Collins, but again sounding more like James Brown) "I'm sad! I'm sad! I'm Phil Collins!" (Speaks normally) Okay, I know a lot of you like Phil Collins, but...God, I don't. I hate Phil Collins. I'm sorry, if you want the proof, watch this movie. The emotional scenes are so much better without his damn music. I don't necessarily blame him, I blame the fact that they chose to just go to a Phil Collins song instead of letting the story just flow naturally. And for a small, quirky kind of movie, everything does really flow here. I really get that Tarzan is trying to figure out who he is, and that's where the focus is. But that doesn't mean there aren't some funny moments or some quirky characters or something that's really delightful. Now, does that make it better than the first one? Well, first of all, it's amazing I'm asking that at all, but that's a little trickier, because the first one is a bigger story. It's supposed to be big and grand and epic, and... Well, this is him as a kid, and it's supposed to be smaller and cute, but it does it so well that I really wish it was in the first film. And I get it, time constraints, you can't do this, but, on the other hand, I had no problem believing that this is part of the story. It's not like in Lion King 1½, where you don't really believe Timon and Pumbaa were really there doing that stuff, they just kind of shoehorned it in. It really feels like this was a part of his life growing up. And it's acted well, and it's animated well. The drawings, unlike Mulan II, felt like they could do the slapstick stuff well and the emotional stuff just as great.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): In some respects, I would almost rather watch this than the original. Again, I'm not saying it's necessarily better. I'm saying it screws up less than the first one. There's so many times in the first film I remember rolling my eyes like, "Oh, we're doing this thing. Damn it. We were going so well. Couldn't we do this instead of that?" But here, it does everything that it's supposed to do, and even taking this story that, yeah, we kind of heard a few times before, but the way they tell it, it seems like you're hearing it for the first time. It's like How to Train Your Dragon. Yeah, we've seen that setup to death, but when it's done in a unique and passionate way, it's really enjoyable to watch. I don't know. I'm still a little too close to it to declare which one is better, but, yeah, I actually did kind of like watching this one a little bit more than the first one. I liked it a great deal, and I have no shame in saying that. I like the characters, I like the animation, I like the story, I like the backgrounds, I like the acting, I like the music. It's just...good. It's a good Disney sequel. I don't know why it's this and 101 Dalmatians II, but both of these I wouldn't mind seeing again. I'm sure a lot of people are gonna disagree with me, and that's fine, but from my point of view, this is a movie I could swing in to watch again.
(The film's final scene, showing Tarzan sitting on the edge of the tree and yelling his signature yell, is shown)