I’ve always been leery of direct-to-video sequels. More often than not the quality is far lower, the big-name stars have been replaced with less expensive actors, and the film’s original feeling just isn’t there any more. However, as I loved the original I simply couldn’t resist taking a look at George of the Jungle 2. Just like Jeff Foxworthy defines being a redneck as “a glorious absence of sophistication”, the original George movie could best be described as “a glorious absence of seriousness”. Just how seriously could you take a movie where the stars get into an argument with the narrator?
George of the Jungle 2 brings back some of original cast back – such as the narrator, the actor who plays Lyle, and the voice of Ape, John Cleese – but drops the original George, Brendan Frasier, and replaces him with “New George” Christopher Showerman, who actually does a pretty good job. In this outing, George and Ursula are happily married and have a son, George Junior. Life is good until Ursula’s mother arrives deep in the jungle with plans to get her daughter and 5-year old grandson back to civilization... and will do absolutely anything to make that happen.
Although George 2 is obviously created with tongue firmly planted in cheek, loaded as it is with in-jokes and visual gags, the real guffaws only appear sporadically. If anything, it seems to be taking its job of not being serious too seriously. The humorously cheesy “special” effects in the original have been replaced with equally as cheesy, but not quite as comical computer generated animals – replete with lip syncing that fails to convince. Although a good film for families with young children, don’t expect the same warm fuzzy inelegance that made the original such an enjoyable romp.
Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen (called “family friendly widescreen” by Disney), George of the Jungle 2’s video transfer is quite respectable for a direct-to-video sequel. Film grain is minimal, black levels are solid, detail levels seem overall good, and colors are quite vibrant – in fact perhaps a bit too vibrant. The film has an overall “warm” tint to it that gives several scenes the impression that they’re slightly oversaturated. Some edge enhancement can also be seen. The movie occupies 6.6 gigabytes on a dual-layered disc, with the layer change occurring at 1:05.34 into the film, or 0:08.14 into chapter 10.
Similar to the video quality, George of the Jungle 2’s audio is also above average. The disc includes Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks for English, French and Spanish languages, plus an English DTS 5.1 track. Dialogue is clear and easy to discern, music is rich, surround channels are used quite abundantly, and the subwoofer gets a real workout in places. The mix is particularly active with sound effects and musical cues scattered liberally throughout the entire surround field. The 768Kbps DTS track is especially strong, with no audible faults.
The bonus features begin with a brief full-screen documentary/featurette entitled “Behind the Trees”. This runs for just over 8 minutes and is geared strictly for kids – the kind of promotional thing you might see on The Disney Channel. Seven deleted scenes are available, totaling about 5 minutes of footage, which can be viewed with or without director’s commentary (although no commentary track is available for the actual movie). There there’s “Jungle Bungles”, a 33-second blooper reel. Finally is a Vine Surfing trivia game, with three paths to take that all lead to... nothing.
Looking for something to watch with the kids? George of the Jungle 2 will fit the bill in a “live cartoon” sort of way, but if you want something closer to the original film, you may be better off watching it over again.
- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on October 27, 2003.
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
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