28 August 1999 | Yorick-8
George of the Tundra sucks like a Tornado, eh?
My five year old adored Brendan Fraser in Disney's "George of the Jungle." I loved the movie too, and we saw it a total of nine times over the four months it ran at local theatres in the summer of 1998. We now own on it DVD; it was the first one we ever purchased, and its publication prompted us to buy the player for my computer, in fact.
What made "George of the Jungle" so great was that Disney remained true to character of the cartoon George and built an exciting and well-written plot around a very fine performance by one of the cutest actors to ever come out of Hollywood. My son and I would sit in the theatre and laugh ourselves silly as joke after joke had the kids and parents rolling in the aisles. George was sweet, funny, and (for the moms) very, very sexy. You could see Fraser's talent and intelligence shining through in places and the result was incredibly likeable.
Unfortunately, Fraser's Dudley is less than stupid, inconsistently clumsy, and completely lacking in any charm whatsoever. I think that Fraser's underlying intelligence actually works against his moronic character, and despite playing opposite a convincing Snidely Whiplash, Fraser's performance is frankly- horrible! I'm not sure if it's Fraser's fault, though. What can anyone do, no matter how much he dimples, to win over an audience to what has to be the most inconsistently developed and poorly written characters of all time? One moment we are asked to love Dudley for his clumsiness and purity of heart. Then we are asked to applaud Do Right's transition into a machine gun toting biker bad boy who is suddenly and inexplicably traipsing about (in an animal skin loincloth, no less) like a Solid Gold dancer. (And of the Native American musical: just how does one clog in moccasins and bare feet? Even the sound effects in the film were senseless.)
I wasn't the only one who hated the film, either. Bored with trying to read my son's Batman comic book during light scenes, I looked around sometime near the middle of the movie to find kids fidgeting in their seats and parents yawning. A few adults were close to tears with boredom and I noticed that precisely at 8:20, when there was still time to grab tickets for the next showing of "A Dog in Flanders", almost half of the audience left the theatre. I grabbed our things, but my son, excited to see Fraser again, made me stay. How I came to envy those parents with children less stubborn than my own! Only twice I heard laughter, and once I joined in. There were a total of four clever lines in the film, in the scene where Dudley is being trained to be bad by some innocuous dirty miner who simply shows up for no discernible reason.
He tells George "Now, say
I am dangerous."
Dudley replies, "You are dangerous."
The miner makes a face and says, "No, say you are dangerous."
"I already said that." says Dudley.
This is almost as clever as the repartee between Bugs and Daffy in the episodes where they vie to convince Elmer which of them he should shoot, but Warner can certainly sustain this kind of thing longer (and I don't have to shell out over twelve dollars for my son and myself to see it.) With Dudley things simply went from bad to worse and culminated into a cinematic experience that I found even more disgusting than that hitherto greatest of all celluloid stink-bombs, "Highlander 2".
You would think that such a simplistic character as a bungling Canadian Mountie could have translated fairly easily onto the big screen. What's not to understand about Dudley? He's drawn in simple lines, has predictable dialogue and only comes in three colours. Yet Disney managed to fail utterly. They even misunderstood Nell, if you can believe that this version of the irritating little blonde has a string of graduate degrees and then has trouble deciding if she should choose Snidely over Dudley. Of course, this Dudley was so lame that he did make Snidely look good, but I still think that two hours of re-runs of the cartoons would have been more entertaining than the plot-less wonder I was forced to see till its end. Not only did the movie fail to portray Do Right within any scope of reasonable resemblance, but they went on to change what the filmmakers obviously did not understand. If you make Dudley bad, or graceful, you completely lose any coherence in his character. He simply doesn't make sense any more and that's not amusing, that's punishment for parents whose children won't allow them to leave early.
In sum, although my five year old defends the film, it is this adult's perspective that "this movie sucks like a tornado, eh." I truly hated it. If Fraser doesn't get himself a new agent and do some better work, I don't know how I can take my son see another one of the travesties on film that he's been getting himself caught up in. For shame Disney, for shame, what you did to that wonderful young man (and to your audience)!