Disney (Wednes)Day: Tarzan

Tarzan is Disney movie 2 of 4 from 1999 and one I haven’t seen before though I know it turned into a musical and is overall a big deal.

The movie opens in he jungle because duh! A mother with her baby escape from a burning ship in what looks like the middle of nowhere. A man who I quickly assume to be the respective father gets on board the small ship and together they head towards the coast. Then a Phil Collins song starts playing. Don’t mind me, I like them but they all do sound very alike. Very alike.

Cut to the jungle with a gorilla family just like the human one we just saw. They all are roaming the island or coast or whatever the heck it is they landed upon and we cut between the two families doing similar things.

The humans build a house high up in a tree and I wonder where they got the tools from, like the saw we saw. Details, I know.

Next we see a cheetah claim the little baby gorilla and it makes me so sad. Mama Gorilla hears a baby cooing and crying so she gets her mothering on and runs into the direction the sound is coming from. She fins the tree house in complete disarray with bloody footprints on the floor. Only the baby is still alive and well so she takes it upon herself to help him. Unfortunately, the cheetah is still in the house and they have a fight where Mama G wins.

More Phil Collins music as Mama G present the little baby to the rest of her folks including her man, Kerchak. (I totally wrote his name as Kojak in my notes because that’s what it sounded like. Kojak isn’t pleased and says the baby won’t replace the one they lost. That’s hella harsh in my opinion, especially since the baby has no one. Thankfully Mama G isn’t having any of it and the baby stays put even if Kojak won’t see it as their son.

Next morning though it isn’t next morning because Tarzan is at least between 4 and 6 years old by now. He i splaying around and gets a bit of sad face when he gets left behind by the other gorillas his age because again, he isn’t really one of them and can’t keep up with them running. The other kids actually call him the hairless wonder and I don’t think it’s meant in a nice way. SCREW YOU!

They couldn’t shake Tarzan though so he comes tumbling in after Terk. They tell him he needs to bring them the hand of an elephant and because Tarzan is a young and impressionable idiot, off he goes to the next elephants he can find where he gets nearly trampled to death. There is a child elephant puppy whatever who is afraid of water and seems to be a special snowflake in a lot of regards so I like to give him a shout out. His name is Tantor btw.


The elephants getting spooked by Tarzan go running through the jungle nearly trampling a young gorilla which makes Kojak really mad at Tarzan which, in return, makes me sad because FAMILY FEELS OF INADEQUACY! But don’t be afraid, Mama G and Tarzan have a heart to heart where they talk about identity in a way and it makes me feel better about the situation. Trazan promises to be the best ape possible so next we get a growing up montage.

I find it very interesting that Tarzan is wearing this little piece of cloth around his privates because the gorillas sure as hell would’t care about him going commando. Also, also grown up Tarzan doesn’t have any facial hair which seems odd to me. He looks very clean shaven.

The bad cheetah is back and we get to see a long and epic fight scene with a victorious Tarzan at the end. He offers the dead cheetah to Kojak but they get interrupted by what sounds like gun shots so Tarzan goes investigating while the apes go hide. What he eventual finds is a father with his daughter who are pleasantly naïve and their watchdog Clayton who is an unpleasant fella. Together these guys are interested in gorillas, mostly because of the woman who wants to study them.

Tarzan is observing all of this and then the woman gets herself in a pickle with some baboons. They are evil and I don’t like them. So anyway, she gets in trouble but fear not because Tarzan is around to help her and together they make a run for it which takes quite long but is probably oh so romantic.

Then Tarzan does some exploring of this pretty girl in front of him since it’s the first time he has ever seen one of his own kind. It’s cute and also a bit creepy but mostly cute. Though I value my personal space a lot, too. They learn each others names, so I can finally call her Jane.

Terk and the other gorillas stumble upon the camp of the humans and start making music which draws the actual humans in. There is a Beauty and the Beast like tea set there which gives me all the feels because I’ve been looking for one of those a while now.

Jane gets back to camp and reunites with her father. She is all over the place explaining to her father about Tarzan and her adventures when T suddenly appears out of nowhere. We get more Phil Collins music as Tarzan is shown pictures of human life and all that kind of stuff. Jane also tries to teach him English.

Jane really would like to see gorillas but Tarzan declines the request because of his strained relationship with Kojak and not wanting to hurt it further.

A boat has arrived and merry men are packing the camp up. It’s time for Jane and the rest to go back to England. She wants Tarzan to come with her because that’s where he belongs. Eeeeehhhh, it really isn’t that easy, honey. Similarly, Tarzan asks Jane to stay but that is also problematic and basically this is a terrible situation.

Together with Terk and Tantor, Tarzan tricks Kojak into separating from the other gorillas so he can show them to Jane and her father. It’s a sweet scene until we see Clayton marking the exact spot on his map. I’m onto you, Mr.!! But before that, Kojak shows up and all hell breaks lose.

Mama G takes Tarzan to the cabin in the woods where she found him many moons ago and he finally understands where he comes from. He puts on his father’s suit and heads to the ship. Mama G is really sad and I feel for her. Though she is also smart enough to know she has to let him go. Not all parents can do that.

On the ship though, Tarzan is far from welcome and he gets put in the belly of the ship where Jane and her father are already held captive. Uh-oh.But fear not, mighty friends, Tantor and Terk are there for their friend. They free the captives and head to the jungle where Clayton is capturing gorillas. We get another epic fighting scene which ends with the death of Kojak. *sobs* At least he manages to acknowledge Tarzan as his son before he dies. MY FEELS!

Jane and Tarzan say goodbye again and it’s bittersweet. On the way to the ship, Jane and her father have a conversation and he tells her she should stay with Tarzan. This surprises me because what parent would do that? So she leaves and in the end even the father leaves to stay in ten jungle. Everyone of happy.

The end.

Aside from a  few plotholes and it being really cheesy, I did enjoy this modern and less creepy version of the Jungle Book.

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  • Return to the ’80s (Paul)

    I remembered liking this movie. I actually saw it when it came out in the theater, but I haven’t seen it since then. I actually like the music too, but other than “You’ll Be In My Heart” it took me a while to warm up to most of it. It is tough to top the music from The Lion King.
    I also remember the beginning of the movie being very dark and intense. Was this the first time Disney killed off a baby animal? Usually, it’s the animal mother that gets killed.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      I think this was the first time Disney killed the baby animal instead of the mother and yes, the beginning was rather bleak.
      My problem with the music is more that it all sounds so similar.

      • Return to the ’80s (Paul)

        Oh yeah, you’re right! “You’ll Be In My Heart”, “Two Worlds” and “Strangers Like Me” all kind of sound the same.

  • Vanessa

    I always remember wondering when Tarzan had the time to wax. And I was always really surprised at how dark the death of Clayton was for a kid’s movie.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Yes, sometimes Disney can be very harsh.