A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tarzan II is the sequel to 1999's Tarzan. While this movie never commits to tragedy or loss in the way that Disney movies like Bambi or The Lion King do, the possibilities of losing someone in your family or feeling alienated from a social group are still strongly expressed in this film. One brief sequence includes a gorilla version of 'playing the dozens,' hilariously insulting one another about their appearances. Most of the violence is of the slapstick variety (think Three Stooges), though one young gorilla has a 'tendency to violent,' which takes the form of breaking rocks against his head, threatening to throw Tarzan off a cliff, and generally wreaking havoc. No serious injuries, however.
What's the story?
TARZAN II takes us back to Tarzan's youth, and delves into the outsider status that the human Tarzan always faced in a family of gorillas. Following a series of misunderstandings and a near escape from death, the young Tarzan fears that his physical inadequacies endanger the safety of the group, and runs away from his family. In the jungle, he discovers an isolated old gorilla named Zugor (voiced by George Carlin). While this grumpy old Oz has long foisted a reign of imaginary terror on the neighborhood, Tarzan threatens to expose Zugor unless he will befriend and apprentice Tarzan. Needless to say, the growth that ensues is two-sided: Zugor agrees to help Tarzan discover what type of animal he really is, and Tarzan provides Zugor with the care and friendship he has missed throughout his life.
Is it any good?
Like Disney's other Tarzan films, this one is full of topographical enjoyment and rollercoaster-like rides through the forest that provide a real rush. There are delightfully cute baby gorillas and a pair of hopelessly stupid adolescents that add some comedy into the mix, though the best lines are contributed by Tarzan's pink elephant pal, whose histrionics and liberal use of clichés are hysterical.
Importantly, this animated movie is much less about Tarzan gaining acceptance or changing the minds of those gorillas who doubted his capacity to survive than it is about him acknowledging his unique talents and recognizing the enduring love of those friends and family who would never have abandoned him. His stages of self-understanding are punctuated without subtlety by the music of Phil Collins, but there are plenty of fun sequences in which Tarzan emulates other animals and acquires his renowned lassoing and vine-swinging techniques.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what their unique skills and talents are, and the importance of trying to figure out what they are good at and enjoy.
Since the trickster character Zugor uses deceit to scare away other animals, it may be important to address the acceptable and unacceptable ways of getting what we want.
Families may also want to talk about the relationship between the irrational (though real) fear we have of imaginary monsters and the fears we have about whether we are good enough.
Talk about sequels. Are sequels ever as good as the original? Can you think of any examples?
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