Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Tarzan Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Kids will be drawn to Disney's fast-paced version.
  • G
  • 1999
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 37 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Stands out for positive role models.

Educational Value
Positive Messages

This film shows various species in nature (including humans) being threatened by creatures who appear to be different from themselves. Tarzan knows he’s different from his ape family, but longs to be accepted. “Forget what you see,” he is told by his loving gorilla mother, “hearts are the same.” Both Tarzan and the patriarch of the gorilla band learn important lessons about acceptance.

Positive Role Models

Tarzan’s gorilla mother is loyal and loving, and exhibits all the traits of good parenting (regardless of species). Tarzan is depicted at various ages as he develops a conscience, worthy values, and courageous loyalty. Despite the fact that the story takes place early in the 20th century and she’s a “damsel in distress” in several sequences, the female character is a scientist, who is competent, fair-minded, and resourceful.

Violence & Scariness

Lots of cartoon action throughout. A terrified family (mother, father, and the baby who will become Tarzan) escapes from a burning boat. An aggressive, scary leopard kills a baby gorilla (off screen), which is followed by the discovery of Tarzan’s dead parents with bloody leopard paw prints nearby. Tarzan later kills the leopard after an extended fight. Elephants rampage; monkeys charge a young human woman (Jane).  Evil humans use rifles to attack, trap, and cage the gorillas and Tarzan. The gorilla king is shot and killed by the human villain. The final, lengthy physical fight pits Tarzan against the villain, who unwittingly causes his own death, falling from a great height.

Sexy Stuff

A budding romance between Tarzan and Jane ends with a loving kiss.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A man pours glasses of wine for himself and Tarzan. Tarzan does not drink it.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tarzan is a 1999 Disney movie. Several important sympathetic characters die in this film, some off-screen and some onscreen. In separate instances a baby gorilla and Tarzan’s parents are killed by a rampaging leopard. Though these incidents occur off-screen, in both cases the aftermath is clear: grieving gorilla parents coming to terms with their loss, and Tarzan’s parents’ lifeless bodies seen surrounded by bloody paw prints on the floor of their house. There's also a climactic onscreen death of the heroic leader of the gorilla band, shot by a scheming human. There’s lots of cartoon action: an escape from a burning ship; the leopard’s fierce threat to the animal kingdom in numerous scenes; Tarzan’s fight to the death with the leopard; rampaging frightened elephants; and, finally, villainous humans attacking and trapping Tarzan and his gorilla family, resulting in a lengthy final battle.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 2 and 4-year-old Written bymom and teacher April 8, 2010

Way too violent for little kids; better wait.

Tarzan's parents are killed by a leopard right at the beginning of the film. The baby is taken from his home by a gorilla, who then has to fight off the l... Continue reading
Adult Written byAshnak April 9, 2008

Decent Kids movie

Tarzan is good for older kids, but I felt it inappropriate for my 5 year old. Too many questions that should wait.
Teen, 13 years old Written byMaddysynCreole January 28, 2021

Jane is too Promiscuous

I was really dissapointed. Women shouldn't be showing of their elbows all the time. It's disgusting. A woman should be modest. My 10 year old son coul... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySamantha687 May 3, 2014


Its really good we all enjoyed it even me for starters so watch it plzzzz

What's the story?

TARZAN begins with two sets of mothers and fathers care for their babies. One set is human, shipwrecked, and making a new home for themselves in a tree. The other parents are gorillas, raising their baby in the gorilla community. When the human baby's parents and the baby gorilla are killed by a tiger, the gorilla mother, Kala (voiced by Glenn Close), adopts the human baby and raises him as her own. Her mate Kerchak, the leader of the gorillas, agrees reluctantly, but insists that the boy is an outsider, who can never be one of them. The boy, called Tarzan by Kala, is hurt by Kerchak's snub, and tries desperately to fit in. He hurtles through trees at lightning speed and even walks on his knuckles. He's comfortable in his world until more humans come ashore, bringing with them curiosities good and bad. While Jane (Minnie Driver) makes the human world tempting, the hunters and their cruelty draw him back to the jungle. Which life will he choose?

Is it any good?

Although there's some pretty serious peril and a few upsetting moments, most kids will be charmed by this version of the popular story. Disney's engaging animated epic owes as much to The Lion King and the tale of the ugly duckling as it does to the Johnny Weissmuller live-action series or the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels.

The storytelling is solid and the characters are memorable, especially Rosie O'Donnell as Tarzan's trouble-loving gorilla friend and Nigel Hawthorne as the bumbling professor. Kids will immediately be drawn in to this version because of its pace and action. Tarzan whips through trees and slides down their trunks like Tony Hawk (indeed the animators watched videos of skaters as inspiration). The music is catchy, too. Phil Collins won an Oscar for the tearjerker "You'll Be in My Heart."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Tarzan and his life between two worlds. Do you think he belongs with the apes or with humans? How did he adapt to life with the apes? Why wasn't he accepted right away? Why does an ape decide to raise Tarzan?

  • Have you seen any other versions of this story? Which do you like best?

  • The animators were inspired by skateboarders when they created Tarzan's scenes swinging through the trees. Can you see any skateboarding moves in the animation?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love primates and outdoor adventure

Themes & Topics

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