Jungle 2 Jungle
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that kids will see some ethnic stereotypes and violence, mainly slapstick and broadly comedic fighting. A cat is knocked unconscious. Russian Mafia thugs wave guns and knives, threatening the main characters, but scenes involving bad guys are cartoonish and played for humor.
What's the story?
A boy who's been raised by his mother on a primitive tropical island visits his father in New York, and discovers it's a jungle, too. Before workaholic futures trader Michael Cromwell (Tim Allen) can marry fashion designer Charlotte, he has to get his first wife Patricia (Jobeth Williams) to sign divorce papers. There's one small problem -- Patricia now practices medicine on a tiny tropical island in the middle of nowhere. Cell phone in hand, Michael tries to keep track of a million dollar coffee bean deal while traveling via canoe to the island. Once there, his plans are derailed when Patricia introduces him to his son, 13-year-old Mimi-Siku. Michael reluctantly takes Mimi (and his enormous pet spider) back to New York, where Michael's partner Richard (Martin Short) has misunderstood instructions and made a dangerous deal with the Russian Mafia. Mimi alienates Charlotte, who's appalled by his "primitive" manners. Michael and Mimi join forces to outwit the Russians, and father and son come to understand each other.
Is it any good?
JUNGLE 2 JUNGLE, a sometimes ponderous comedy, may have been a delightful soufflé in the original French version, but it falls flat as a pancake in the American translation. The often leaden humor may not bother kids, but parents may groan at some of the film's depictions of ethnic stereotypes. Tim Allen, playing an unrepentant man-child, and rubber-faced Martin Short go a long way toward making this contrived story bearable. Neither has enough to do, but both provide distraction from a silly plot and some heavy-handed farce. Unfortunately, though the performers exert a lot of energy, the story gathers no real momentum.
Pre-adolescent humor abounds, with fart jokes and over-the-top performances the order of the day. Mimi-Siku's name translates as "Cat piss," and the head of the Russian mob is a compendium of Soviet clichés, wrist deep in caviar and black market goods. Lost amid the strained slapstick is a father-son story that could have been both comic and touching, with stronger writing and more inventive direction. That said, kids are unlikely to notice the weak points. Instead, they'll enjoy Mimi-Siku's wanderings in the Big Apple, and the mayhem he leaves in his wake.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the "fish-out-of-water" comedy. What's so funny about dropping someone, especially a naive someone, into a vastly different setting than they are accustomed to? Would fish-out-of-water comedies work very well if the main characters weren't stereotypes? Why or why not? Can you think of other fish-out-of-water comedies? How do they compare to this one?