Film / George of the Jungle

George of the Jungle is a 1997 movie based on the cartoon of the same name, starring Brendan Fraser as George and Leslie Mann as Ursula.

We learn in the Animated Credits Opening that George survived a plane crash in the heart of Africa, but was sadly unfound by the survivors and rescue crew. Here, he grows into a man who rules the jungle. An heiress named Ursula explores the area with her snooty fiance, Lyle (Thomas Haden Church), who abandons her when a lion attacks them. George swoops in to save Ursula, and takes care of her while Lyle and a couple of poachers (in search of the mythical "White Ape", which is George) try to find her. George and Ursula eventually fall in love with each other, and they go back to San Francisco for the requisite Fish out of Water plot. George and Ursula have to deal with the treacherous Lyle and Ursula's disapproving, meddling mother in order to stay together and live happily ever after.

Completely light-hearted, with a narrator who delights in the fact there's No Fourth Wall and lampshades just about everything, George of the Jungle was a box-office success and relatively well-received with critics. In 2003 it got a Direct-to-Video sequel, which had Christopher Showerman as George and Julie Benz as Ursula. ("Me new George. Studio too cheap to pay Brendan Fraser.")

This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Ursula, who was a redhead in the original cartoon, is blonde in the movie.
  • Agony of the Feet: Ursula kicks Lyle in the shins to escape and he hops around for a bit before grabbing her again.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Shep, George's pet elephant acts as if he was a dog.
  • All Girls Like Ponies: Discussed in a scene, when at a party, the girls are all watching George frolicking with the horses, when one of the male guests (who, of course, has no idea who George is) comments "What is it with girls and horses, anyway?"
    • Hilarious in Hindsight when one of the women comments that she wished that she could find a man like George. The woman is played by Brendan Fraser's then-real life wife, Afton Smith.
  • Amusing Injuries: As the narrator explains, in this film nobody dies, but they will "get big boo-boos". George smashing into trees is particularly a Running Gag.
  • An Ape Named Ape
  • Animated Credits Opening: Good one, too.
  • Argument of Contradictions: Of the "Did not!" "Did too!" variety, between Thor and the narrator.
  • Artistic License Sports: George claims to hit a lion with a "flying piledriver," when what he actually does is an elbow drop.
  • Babies Ever After: The film ends with first a scene of George and Ursula's baby showing he's inherited his dad's clumsiness by walking into a low hanging bar, and then proceeds to parody The Lion King.
  • Better Than a Bare Bulb: One of the film's main quirks is lampshading everything.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: George enacts this with Ursula a couple of times in the first movie.
  • Big Bad: Lyle in both films.
  • Big "NO!": Lyle when he finds out that a female gorilla has taken Ursula's place at the end for a marriage proposal.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: N'Dugo, Kip, and Baleto, the porters.
  • Bilingual Backfire: One of the guides makes it very clear that the other guides only speak Swahili. Until it eventually comes to light that they do know English enough to understand him, they just don't speak it unless they want to be understood.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Regarding the sequel.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase:
    Narrator: [Ape is] hoping to hear the jungle king's awesome— (Does the Tarzan yell... in George's voice, no less.) Hey, I'm pretty good at that...
  • Bridal Carry: Played straight when George carries an unconscious Ursula to bed in the first movie. Subverted in the sequel where George is about to carry Ursula out the window, but knocks her out on the wall when turning around momentarily.
  • Bride and Switch: At the climax, Lyle tries to forcibly marry Ursula when they enter a dark tunnel. Upon exiting the tunnel he learns that he actually married an amorous gorilla instead.
  • Bullet Seed: Shep the elephant + Coconuts = most unusual artillery cannon ever.
  • Butt Monkey: Lyle. Even his buddies think he's a buffoon when he [unsuccessfully] attempts to portray himself as a charismatic genius.
  • Call A Loincloth A "Butt Flap"
  • Call Back: The sequel directly re-enacts scenes, jokes and other elements from the first movie. All while Lampshading them, of course.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: In the sequel, they don't bother hypnotising Junior into believing Lyle is his dad, yet it takes him nearly the whole movie to tell his mother the truth.
  • Casting Gag: The woman who says she wishes she could meet a man like George is played by Afton Smith, Brendan Fraser's wife at the time.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: George attempts to "make Ursula George's mate" (with a gorilla courtship display, get your minds out of the gutter) in one of these, lampshaded by the narrator as the "really big and expensive waterfall set."
  • Chekhov's Skill: George teaches Ursula how to vine swing while in the jungle, and later in making a jungle call in the city. She uses both when she arrives to help George in the battle with Max and Thor.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Ursula's father doesn't appear or even mentioned in the sequel. Ursula's mother may have divorced him for favoring their daughter's marriage with George.
  • Concussions Get You High: Happens to George, Ursula and others in both films
  • Cool Old Guy: Ursula's father who takes a shining to George and encourages Ursula to follow her heart.
  • Continuity Nod: The sequel is packed with them, most notably the scene where George and his family are shipped to Africa in a very large crate, thanks to "a tip from Brendan Fraser."
  • Contrived Coincidence: When Ursula's mother accidentally sees her and George walking down the street, the narrator lampshades it: "Every story gets to have a really big coincidence and here's ours..."
  • Curse Cut Short: When Thor picks a fight with the narrator:
    Thor: Why don't you say something constructive for a change, like what we should do now?
    Narrator: Because I don't like you!
    Thor: Well, I hate you, you snotty son of a—
    Narrator: I'll pretend I didn't hear that.
    Max: Thor! Were you fighting with the narrator?
  • Dating What Mommy Hates: Ursula with George, although it's her mother who has the problem with the relationship. Her father, on the other hand, is just fine with George.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ape named Ape. It helps tremendously that he's voiced by John Cleese, and steals the show numerous times. Like everything else in the movie it's also lampshaded, sometimes by Ape himself!
    • Ursula's father, who has pretty much been a background character while actually supporting Ursula's decisions unlike her mother, lets out a gem at the end, referring to his wife as a pain in the ass.
  • Dirty Coward: Lyle; when a lion attacks him and Ursula, he runs away. Ursula calls him out on this, but he just waves it off.
  • Disney Death: The film plays the trope straight, hangs a lampshade on it, and takes it to a blatantly over-the-top extreme bordering on Nigh-Invulnerability. In one of the first scenes, for example, one of the guides falls at least 400 meters from a Rope Bridge over a cliff, at which point the Narrator reassures the audience:
    Narrator: Don't worry — nobody dies in this story. They just get really big boo-boos."
    *Gilligan Cut to the battered, bandaged, alive-but-very-much-ticked-off guide*
    Narrator: What did I tell you?
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Inverted with George. He tends to go barefoot in the jungle, but for a cross-country running montage, he pulls out a pair of Nike Airs. Averted with Ursula, who (unlike her animated counterpart and most Jane Porter-type women) is only barefoot on two occasions in the movies and wears boots and sandals instead.
  • Does He Have a Brother?: Ursula's friend Betsy asks this of George, who brings up his "brother", Ape.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Ursula's mother's attitude towards George is more than a little reminiscent of parents who oppose interracial dating. The fact that she disdainfully calls George an ape just adds to it.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Only this time, explaining the joke is the joke.
    Guide 1: (to the camera) Bad guy falls in poop: Classic element of physical comedy! Now comes the part where we throw our heads back and laugh. Ready?
    Other guides: Ready!
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: George licks Ursula's cheek after she faints.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: See Fun with Subtitles below.
  • Engineered Heroics: When Little Monkey complains that he's unpopular with the other monkeys, George sets up a scene where a lion pretends to attack the monkeys, and Little Monkey fends it off with a Primal Chest-Pound.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys
  • Fade to White: When George is shot.
  • Female Gaze: Taken up to eleven. George may be the title character, but it's Ursula who gets the bulk of the character development, and whose actions drive the plot. George, on the other hand, is mostly there to be her love interest. He's also sweet, soulful, courageous, in touch with his emotions, and spends most of the movie running around in nothing but a loincloth.
  • The Film of the Series
  • Fish out of Water: The movie's second act follows George back to Ursula's urban home and depicts his awkward and oftentime heartbreaking isolation and attempts to fit in.
  • Freudian Threat: Beatrice threatens "to remove George's reason for wearing a loincloth" unless he leaves Ursula.
  • Fun with Foreign Languages:
    Lyle: (about the guides) They're probably saying I'm the biggest jerk they've ever seen in their lives. Probably trying to think of something evil to do to me.
    First guide: (in Swahili, subtitles) That guy's the biggest jerk I've seen in my life.
    Second guide: (in Swahili) Let's think of something evil to do to him.
    • When Lyle tries to explain why he didn't save Ursula:
    Lyle: The important thing, Kwame, is that I was outnumbered.
    Guide: (in Swahili) It's easy to be outnumbered when you're a zero.
    Lyle: Absolutely!
  • Fun with Subtitles: When George is speaking "gorilla" to his ape friends. George sounds incredibly stupid in English, but apparently he speaks Gorilla like a Shakespearean scholar, complete with an ornamental calligraphy-style font for the subtitles.
    • Near the climax of the film everything Lyle's henchmen (Gunner, Gunter, Hans, Jans, and Phil) say is subtitled, even though they're speaking perfect English.
    • Lyle trying to speak Swahili and failing miserably. See My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels, below.
  • Going Native: Ursula. The movie novelization goes into more detail about why she prefers the jungle over the city, the movie making it only seem like it's for George.
  • Hammered into the Ground: How Rocky the Kangaroo subdues Sally and Kowalski in the sequel.
  • Hand or Object Underwear: Innocent Fanservice Boy George has this scene with Ursula grabbing things for him to cover up with. It does spur an amusing comment from Ursula's friend Betsy: "...see why they made him King of the Jungle..."
  • Hard Head: In the sequel:
    George: George lucky man. He has Junior, and Ursula (coconut falls on his head, unfazed)...and really strong head.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: in the first movie;
    Narrator: Later, in the Men's Department, after discovering his long lost brothers, the jungle king was pleased to find he looked pretty good in Armani.
    George: Pretty darn good!
  • Hulk Speak: George.
  • Human Mail: George ships himself from San Francisco to the jungle via UPS.
    "Next time, George get bigger box."
    • And in the sequel he does get a bigger box! Big enough to hold him, along with Ape, Ursula, Junior, and Rocky!
    Narrator: After getting a tip from Brendan Fraser, who was cramped during the first pic, this time, George managed to get an even bigger crate.
  • I Choose to Stay: Ursula decides to stay in the jungle with George, rather than George staying in the city with her.
  • Imagine Spot: Done by - who else? - the narrator:
    Narrator: Ursula Stanhope went inside to break the news to her parents, who took it extremely well.
    Ursula: Mother, Daddy, I love you both very much. I have something very important to tell you... and I hope you'll understand. I don't want to marry Lyle any more.
    Ursula's parents, smiling, in unison: We understand, dear.
    (Ursula sighs in relief and smiles brightly)
    Narrator: Juuuust kidding!
    Ursula's mother: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! (drops wine glass)
  • Immortal Hero: Lampshaded by the narrator:
    "Poor George was really shot, but can't die, because let's face it, he's the hero!"
  • Inflationary Dialogue:
    Guide: So in this version, there are two lions with the white ape?. A minute ago, there was only one.
    Lyle: Hey, the important thing, Kwame, is that I was outnumbered.
  • Innocent Fanservice Boy: George complains about the shower, saying that the "waterfall" is too hot and he slipped on a "strange slippery rock"... while nude, in front of the heroine and her best friend.
  • Intellectual Animal: Ape. Voiced by John Cleese to make it even funnier.
  • Interactive Narrator: The narrator is an active and slightly malignant force. At one point, Thor (a Mook) picks a fight with him over his insulting description, to which the narrator responds by rewinding the movie just to taunt him. (The mook's comrade then asks, "Thor, were you fighting with the narrator?")
    Thor: Well, he started it.
    • In the sequel, Lyle gets into an argument with him during the climax. The infuriated narrator calmly reaches down and plucks him off to the sky while the heroes stare in complete bemusement.
  • Jerkass:
    • It's not rather surprising that Ursula eventually decides that she doesn't want to marry Lyle anymore. First he gatecrashes Ursula's trek through Africa and tries to drag her back home, even when it's clear that she's enjoying herself there and doesn't want to leave. Then he nearly kills one of the group's porters, and has the nerve to blame the porter's "inexperience" for it. Then he treats the porters as if they barely understand the modern world (referring to a lighter and camera as "magic fire" and a "magic picture", respectively). Then he drags Ursula into the jungle so that they can find a white ape and therefore leave, gets both of them lost, and ditches Ursula when they encounter a lion. And the next time he sees her, he claims that he was fighting the lion the whole time, and that she's just too scared to remember this. And this is just the first act.
      • Heck, even Lyle pretty much hit the nail on his own head when he thinks the guides are saying that he's the biggest jerk they've ever seen in their lives. Which to be precise, he really is.
    • Ursula's mother's not so nice, either. She is completely insistent that Ursula marry Lyle, even when Ursula adamantly refuses, and even after Ursula lays out everything Lyle did (see above). Ursula's mother even tells George that Ursula couldn't really love him and that they're from two different worlds, and that he should just go home, or else she'll remove his reason for wearing a loincloth. Although her schemes ultimately fail, she ends up as a Karma Houdini in the first movie.
      • The second movie has her continue to try and pair Ursula up with Lyle, even though, by this time, Ursula's already married to George—and has a son!! She finally gets her comeuppance this time, though.
  • Jungle Drums of course. They're Bongo-grams.
  • The Klutz: George.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Done twice in the same sentence.
    Narrator: Kwame and his men were getting dangerously close... to shoving a coconut up Lyle's... sleeping bag.
  • Lemony Narrator
  • Live-Action Adaptation
  • A Lizard Named "Liz": Tookie Tookie Bird is a toucan in this adaptation.
  • Love Epiphany: Beatrice mentions Ursula's feelings for George to her and using the word "love" solidifies Ursula's realization of her feelings.
  • Man Child: George, largely due to having been raised in the jungle by apes.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Lyle towards Ursula when he finally reunites with her after the lion incident.
    *Lyle begins creepily embracing and kissing Ursula*
    Ursula: Lyle, don't get all smoochy and disgusting with me. I remember what you did to me when that lion came.
    Lyle: What are you talking about? I was fighting the lion the whole time.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: For some reason, there's an orangutan hanging around in the heart of the African jungle, as well as a toucan, a clearly Indian elephant and, if we're going to be picky, a lion (lions live in plains and open spaces rather than jungles; so do African elephants, for that matter).
  • Monster Shaped Mountain: Ape Mountain is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a mountain shaped like an ape's head.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Brendan Fraser as George.
  • Must Have Caffeine: George goes crazy for Chock Full o'Nuts coffee while in Ursula's apartment.
    George: Javajavajavajavajavajavajavajavajavajavajavajavajava!
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Lyle uses a phrasebook to attempt to communicate with his native porters in the African jungle. The subtitles supply, "Pardon me, girls. I know you're feeling pretty hey sailor up here about now. But if you would just let me order a bowl of fried clams, we can all have smallpox in the morning."
  • Narration Echo:
    Narrator: And they responded with awe.
    Cast: Awwwww...
    Narrator: I said awe. A-W-E.
    Cast: Oooooh...
    Narrator: That's better.
    • A more straight example:
      Narrator: Ursula was amazed that she was lost in the wilderness with a jungle man.
      Ursula: Here I am, lost in the wilderness with a jungle man.
  • Never Live It Down: In-Universe. When Lyle is reintroduced during the sequel, the narrator gleefully reminded him of the time he fell into a pile of elephant poop in the first film. Lyle is less than amused.
  • Nobody Can Die: As the narrator explains, they just get really big boo-boos.
  • No Fourth Wall: The narrator gleefully lampshades every plot point and convention, George has a lot of asides to the viewer, and one of the villains in the first movie even take the time to berate the narrator for giving them such a hard time. Taken Up to Eleven in the second film, where the narrator completely gets rid of Lyle by physically reaching in and plucking him out of the movie!
  • Non Sequitur Thud:
    • In the sequel, as animals are launching coconuts at impending bulldozers
    George: George will stand here just as long as George's name is (two coconuts fly at his head)...Herb... (falls over)
  • The Obi-Wannabe: Despite being much more intelligent than George, Ape is this when it comes to giving George love advice. Understandable, since he's of a different species.
  • Oblivious Adoption: Until meeting Ursula, George isn't aware that he's a different species or that Ape isn't his biological brother.
  • Only Sane Man: Ursula's father. Unlike her mother, he calmly accepts that Ursula is in love with George and there's nothing that can be done to stop their union. How he deals with his wife is really unknown, but he is something of a Deadpan Snarker noting that she is a pain in the ass.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Carry: Used in both movies by George with Ursula.
  • Parting-from-Consciousness Words:
    • In the first movie, during Ursula's bouts of unconsciousness following her crash into a tree:
    Ursula: Mommy, make the monkey stop talking...
    Ursula: I'm gonna pass out again now. Bye.
    • Later, in the sequel:
    Ursula: Oh, the elephant's wearing New Balance. (faints)
  • Police Lineup: Parodied when Lyle takes part in a lineup. In normal police lineups, the people hired are meant to have similar physical features to the convicted/accused. Lyle ended up standing next to jungle natives who weren't even the same skin colour as he was and they were of different shapes and sizes.
  • Precision F-Strike: "God, that woman's a pain in the ass."
    • Followed immediately by the Narrator saying, in regards to Ape in captivity, "Meanwhile, halfway across the world, another ass was feeling pain..."
  • Pretender Diss: Parodying Lloyd Bentsen's famous comment:
    Ursula's mother: Arthur, I wish you would do something about all these monkeys. I feel like Jane Goodall.
    Ape: Madam, I knew Jane Goodall and you are no Jane Goodall.
  • Rage Against the Author: Thor (one of the bad guys) gets into a fight with a narrator: "Why don't you say something constructive for a change, like what we should do now?"
    • BECAUSE I DON'T LIKE YOU! (and eventually invisible punches are thrown into Those Two Bad Guys...)
    • This ends up defeating Lyle in the second film, where he pisses the narrator off so much, he plucks him out of the film.
  • Reality Warper: The Narrator parodies this. He is able to change anything in the story as much as he wants - such as getting rid of Lyle, letting Beatrice and a Zulu guide live, fastforwarding a mook's rant at him, even fastforwarding Ursula's long-winded explanation about why she doesn't want to marry Lyle anymore...
  • Rescue Romance
  • Road Apples: Lyle falls face first in fresh elephant dung in one scene.
  • Sexual Karma: Lyle winds up with a (semi-sentient) gorilla... who he'd just exchanged vows with while in a dark cave, thinking it was Ursula.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: In the sequel, Ursula (though not a comic relief character) is put to sleep just before to the big fight at the end, waking up just as it ends. This is odd, considering her actually contributing to the fight at the end of the first movie.
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: Ursula crashes into two trees in the first movie, and in the sequel, is knocked out by George swinging her against a wall. In a deleted scene from the sequel, George even swings into her, sending her flying.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: Ursula remains unconscious during the entire fight in the sequel, waking just when it ends.
  • Slow-Motion Drop: Parodied with the Imagine Spot listed above.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Ursula. Despite being a wealthy heiress who's rich enough to have a man completely treated for being shot in the head, she's a very nice person.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In an early scene, Lyle's decision to cross a dilapidated bridge causes some of his expedition guides to get really bad boo-boos. In the next scene, he's shown to be wary of them and specifically states that they "Must think [he's] the world's biggest jerk" and that they're probably planning to do something evil to him. Camera pans to them speaking in Swahili, and the subtitles reveal they say nearly the exact same thing.
    • On the other paw, it is later revealed that the guides speak and understand fluent English; they understood him saying that, and probably said it to mock him.
  • Tap on the Head: George, and even Ursula, smash into trees and other things in both movies and don't seem to need extensive medical aid afterward.
  • That's Gotta Hurt: A couple of examples in reaction to George's crashing into something.
    Watch out for that—
    (Ooh) tree!
  • Third-Person Person: George.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: "This biggest swing in jungle history. Will hurt very much... But George have to do it." Whimper. The swing is so long that he builds up enough velocity to actually knock a George-shaped section of bark off the other side of the tree. Ow.
  • This Is My Boomstick: Parodied. Lyle Van de Groot, rich snob white guy, attempts to impress his native guides by offering them lighters and showing off his camera... even though his guides are clearly familiar with such things. The guides play along for a bit, and then burst out laughing at him, whereupon their translator makes it clear they're not only unimpressed, they know more about cameras than he does.
    Kwame: He says that he likes your magic pictures... but he prefers the resolution of the Leica 35-millimeter transparencies. He also says that your lens is dirty, but he has the equipment to clean it for you.
    • Going the other direction, Lyle later attempts to scare George off with a lighter shaped like a handgun. George, having never seen any kind of gun before, keeps charging. Then it turns out the gun is real.note 
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Max and Thor.
  • Toyota Tripwire: George obliviously sticking his head out of a car window and smacking it on a van door.
  • Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: During George's fight with Max and Thor to save Ape, George is losing... until Ape tells him to forget about fighting fair. Cue Groin Attack.
  • Vine Swing: Done a lot, including "the Biggest Swing in Jungle History".
  • Viva Las Vegas
    • The Credits Gag for the first film reveals the apes got a show at the Las Vegas Strip.
    • Its also a bit of the setting in the second movie.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: Ursula in both movies.
  • Watch Out for That Tree!: Of course. And George is not only one to crash into them!
  • What's an X Like You Doing in a Y Like This?: Ape reads a book on "human courtship rituals" to help George (Coffee, Tea or Me, a real-life book about two lusty young fictional stewardesses) and suggests the line "What's a nice girl like you doing in a plane like this?"
  • World's Shortest Book: Ape, talking about "George's Secrets". Provides the page quote.
  • You No Take Candle: George of course, what after being raised in the jungle and left unfounded by the survivors.