Tarzan

 
Kids will be drawn to Disney's fast-paced version.
  • Review Date: May 9, 2003
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value
Not applicable
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.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

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

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that 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.

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?

QUALITY
 

Disney's 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."

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:June 27, 1999
DVD release date:October 18, 2005
Cast:Glenn Close, Minnie Driver, Tony Goldwyn
Directors:Chris Buck, Kevin Lima
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Book characters, Wild animals
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of Tarzan was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 2 and 4 year old Written bymom and teacher April 8, 2010
age 8+
 

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 leopard. Tarzan is treated with hostility by the head gorilla. The hunters are shooting guns at animals and people. Finally, the bad guy hunter is hanged from some jungle vines at the end of a big fight. My four-and-a-half-year old was really upset about the baby Tarzan being taken out of his home by the gorilla, and he kept asking questions about the mom and dad were. It was pretty upsetting.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written byAshnak April 9, 2008
age 8+
 

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, 14 years old Written byBlueSunday October 2, 2010
age 6+
 

There's never a dull moment

One of the most amazing movies I've ever seen! The animation is beautiful, the characters are sweet, its funny, over all brilliant! Tarzan is strong and caring, Jane is funny and loveable, her father is just goofy (in a good way) Kala (Tarzan's gorilla mother) is understanding and forgiving. Kerckek is... well, get over his temper tantrums and you'll love him. Claiton, or as Tarzan knows him "the sound of a gun-shot" well, he's a villan, we aren't suppose to like him, but he's a good villan. Terk, hysterical, Tantor, a worry-wart, but so fun. Anyway.. you can't really hate any of them, they're all amazing characters! As far as gore goes: baby gorilla dies (ends with crying in pain off screen) parents bodies half hidden, bloody paw-prints, killed lepard, hanging death. You'll get over that when you see how amazing the movie is. I loved this sinse I was little, and when Kala tells Tarzan they look differen't, but we're all the same, and they just don't trust what they can't explain, that is such a sweet scene. Also, as far as alcahol goes, Clintain gives Tarzan a small glass of wine when they were talking, but Tarzan got rid of it without tasting it (That a'boy!)
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

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