Flashback Review: Tarzan (1999)

After “Mulan” was released in 1998, Disney worked on their next project an animated adaptation of “Tarzan.” After years of hiring a cast & crew, Disney’s last film in The 20th Century was officially distributed worldwide.

Disney’s Tarzan was released in 1999. (same year Toy Story 2 came out) It received positive reviews from critics, families and movie goers alike. In addition to good reception, it made enough revenue at the box office. Tarzan won Phil Collins an Oscar for “Best Original Song.” Tarzan marks the end of “The Disney Renaissance.” A direct-to-video titled, “Tarzan And Jane” is takes place after the first movie. Tarzan made an appearance in the first installment of the “Kingdom Hearts” series.

Original animated films including “Raya And The Last Dragon,” & “Encanto” are slated to come out in 2021. Before these films come out, I’d like to share my thoughts on Tarzan if it still holds up.

Today’s review doesn’t contain no crucial SPOILERS. Feel free to read my non-spoiler article.

Right & Wrong Aspects

Right: Tony Goldwyn (the bad guy from Ghost) did a great job voicing the titular character.

Fun Fact: Brendan Fraser auditioned for the role as Tarzan. He turned it down, because he already played a parody of Tarzan known as “George Of The Jungle” Brendan was busy at the time filming the 1999 version of “The Mummy.” Another remake of a classic character other than Tarzan.

Other Cast Members such as Minnie Driver, Rosie O’Donnell, Glenn Close, Lance Henriksen (Bishop from the Alien franchise) & Wayne Knight all did a great job for their respective performances.

Kevin Lima (A Goofy Movie, Enchanted) & Chris Buck (Pocahontas, Frozen and its sequel) both did a good job directing the film.

Animation is gorgeous blending traditional 2D format and 3D visuals to create character models, environmental locations, fluid movement and last but not least Tarzan’s unique skill surfing on tree branches.

Tarzan’s ability to surf on tree branches are based on Tony Hawk’s skateboarding tricks. The 90’s were filled with extreme sports back then.

The Animators visited zoos studying animal behavior in order to maintain accuracy.

Action Sequences were pretty good. My favorite battle is Tarzan’s fight with a leopard. I also liked Tarzan’s battle with Clayton. Brings back memories from the first Kingdom Hearts game.

Humor has some legit jokes. Gotta love Tantor’s overreacting.

Chemistry between Tarzan & Jane felt organic. As the film progresses, they become close. Thank goodness they don’t instant hook up within 24 hours.

Mark Mancina (Speed, Training Day, Moana) orchestrated the music.

Only one Musical Number is used when Terk, Tantor and the gorillas perform at Jane’s camp. Why didn’t Disney go on a traditional route, not hire Phil Collins singing 90% of the soundtrack.

Tarzan’s fascination with Jane, her father & Clayton conflicts his adopted father Kerchak, because of Tarzan’s interactions with humans and eager to learn English and human activities.

Tarzan’s “fish out of water” moments isn’t forced. He’s capable of adapting to human activity.

You can’t forget Tarzan’s infamous yell. He uses it as some sort of war cry.

If you have a keen eye, a teapot and a teacup resemble Mrs. Potts & Chip from “Beauty And The Beast.” Gotta love Disney’s wink.

The Opening Scene fully establishes Tarzan’s origins.

Without giving anything away, a sad Death Scene near the end will make you cry if you have a sensitive side. I’m gonna be brutally honest, I didn’t cry. Any animated Disney film never made me sob hard.

Wrong: Unlike some animated Disney musicals, any song by Phil Collins states the obvious whenever we witness Tarzan’s journey. Disney if you want to play a song, you need pick any character or more to perform a musical number. If you don’t wanna make a non-musical, “Show, Don’t Tell.”

A “we are done” cliche occurred when Taran parts ways with somebody close. I hate it when something like this happens in most buddy cop or romantic comedies. You know two people will put their differences and reconcile. I find this trope painfully predictable.

One song I specifically hate is “You’ll Be In My Heart.” At one point, the is played in the background when Nala snuggles with baby Tarzan. Even the gorillas snuggle with their children. What I witnessed is Disney being manipulative shoving a heartwarming moment in my face. Disney later made the same boo boo in “Brotther Bear.” To this day, I’m shocked Phil Collins took home the Oscar for Best Original Song stealing Trey Parker & Matt Stone’s Oscar nominated song, “Blame Canada” from “South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut.” At least Trey & Matt got their revenge mocking Phil on an episode of “South Park” known as “Timmy 2000.” As a fan of the show, I have no choice but to Double Down Phil’s Oscar Bait song. You’ll Be In My Heart is played during The End Credits.

You’ll Be In My Heart is one of the worst Disney songs besides Peter Pan’s “Following The Leader” & Frozen’s most overrated song “Let It Go.”

The Final Verdict: B-

Despite a few blemishes, Disney’s Tarzan is an average entry ending The Disney Renaissance, arguably the greatest era in the company’s history. Some parts still hold up from the positive section. If Phil Collins wasn’t hired, I would’ve bump up my final verdict a B. If only they went for a traditional musical route. Thankfully, Disney is doing fine in current times with Disney Plus, The Mandalorian, Marvel and ultimately purchased Fox. They are by far superior than Disney Channel’s god awful sitcoms and the live action remakes of beloved animated classics. If you want to introduce your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, godkids or your kids’ buddies for a watch party, don’t be shy and give Tarzan a try.

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