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Western Animation / Tarzan

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"Put your faith in what you most believe in
Two worlds, one family
Trust your heart, let faith decide
To guide these lives we see..."

Tarzan, released in 1999, is the 37th film in the Disney Animated Canon and the tenth and final film in the Disney Renaissance.note  Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan series, it stars Tony Goldwyn as the eponymous hero, Minnie Driver as his Love Interest Jane, and BRIAN BLESSED as the antagonist, Clayton.note  Phil Collins composed the songs.

The film opens in the late 1860snote , where an English couple and their infant son are the only survivors of a shipwreck off the coast of uncharted Darkest Africa. Using the remains of the ship, they build a new home in a large tree while they await rescue. At the same time, a gorilla named Kala and her mate Kerchak live peacefully with an infant child. The peace is soon shattered when their child is killed by the vicious leopard Sabor, and Kala is left devastated. Some time later, she hears a baby's cries and stumbles upon the now-abandoned treehouse. As she enters, she sees blood-covered paw prints and the dead parents, also the predator's victims. Action ensues and Kala saves the boy from Sabor. Kerchak despises the human for his appearance, but Kala decides to raise him anyway, naming him "Tarzan".


Tarzan grows up to become a strong, gorilla-like man, whose best friends are a tomboyish female gorilla named Terk and a neurotic elephant named Tantor (Rosie O'Donnell and Wayne Knight). One day, Sabor attacks the gorillas and is defeated by Tarzan, which earns him some respect from Kerchak. Then a British expedition team come to study gorillas appears, led by Professor Archimedes Q. Porter. His daughter Jane is attacked by baboons, surviving only after being rescued by Tarzan. Now Tarzan must decide where he belongs, and also prevent the trigger-happy hunter escort Clayton from ruining everything...

The film was followed by an animated series, The Legend of Tarzan, and two direct-to-video sequels, a compilation film titled Tarzan & Jane and an Interquel titled Tarzan II. The movie was even adapted into a short-lived Broadway musical.


Tarzan provides examples of:

Animated film

Other media

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    Broadway Musical 
  • Adaptational Context Change: During "Strangers Like Me," Tarzan's verse about showing Jane his jungle world has him introducing her to Kala, whom she originally didn't meet until late in the film.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Downplayed in that his actions are framed as more sympathetic, but Kerchak is all but stated to have had a less-than-pleasant encounter with poachers before, which is why he is warry of Tarzan. He only banishes Tarzan out of fear for the rest of the troop and doing it is clearly not easy for him.
  • Adaptational Modesty: Jane's Stripperific clothing development in the film is averted, though some productions have her wearing her Fur Bikini during the curtain call.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Clayton is American rather than British.
  • Adapted Out: Tantor is removed entirely from the Broadway musical version. Justified in that, while gorillas and leopards are roughly human-sized and can be played by costumed actors, an elephant would be very difficult to be put on stage.
  • Distant Duet: Depending on the production, "For The First Time," where Jane and Tarzan sing about their budding feelings for each other.
  • Gender Flip: Terk is portrayed as a male.Doubles as a Mythology Gag; when the movie was in production, the book character Terkoz wasn't working well, and was changed into the female character Terkina.
  • Irrelevant Act Opener: "Trashin' the Camp" becomes this.
  • Karma Houdini: Unlike the film, Clayton doesn't die, and doesn't receive any comeuppance for his actions.
  • No Song for the Wicked: Clayton does not participate in any of the show's musical numbers, much less have one of his own.
  • Sidekick Song: Terk gets one, "Who Better Than Me".
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Everyone who dies in the film is killed in the musical, except for Clayton, the villain.

    Tarzan II 
  • Abusive Parents: Mama Gunda doesn't shy away from physical punishment when disciplining Kago and Uto.
    Mama Gunda: Lips!
  • Affably Evil: Mama Gunda talks in a sickeningly sweet manner with everyone.
  • Animation Bump: Scenes of the film, while consistently passable, fluctuate in quality a bit, ranging from high quality TV budget to practically matching the fluency of the first film.
  • Berserk Button: Kago does not like being poked by his brother.
  • Be Yourself: The Aesop of the movie. As Tarzan tries to seek exactly what he is, he is left with the answer he is... a Tarzan, something that is unique and special in itself. Kind of a Broken Aesop, though, since in the first movie, Tarzan being led to believe that he was a unique kind of ape and being swayed away from trying to act too much like the others was portrayed as a bad thing when Tarzan encountered creatures that were much more like him; he even got mad at Kala for not telling him that such creatures existed.
  • Blackmail: To get Zugor to change his mind, Tarzan blackmails Zugor by threatening to tell everyone that he's the Zugor.
  • Bookends: The movie ends exactly the same way the first did - the camera zooms out as Tarzan emits his famous yell from a tree branch, then cuts to the film's title on a drumbeat.
  • Central Theme: Identity. After realizing he's not like the other gorillas, Tarzan tries to figure out what he really is.
  • Copycat Mockery: Terk does impressions of Kerchak and Kala to make fun of the arguments they have about Tarzan. She even changes her hair to match.
  • Cynical Mentor: Zugor becomes this to Tarzan for a while.
  • December–December Romance: Between Zugor and Mama Gunda.
  • Dumb Muscle: Kago and Uto are both enormous, but rather dim-witted. Especially Uto, who mistakes Tarzan for a baby bird and accidentally points at himself while responding with a No, You to one of Kago's insults.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Kago and Uto may be big and violent apes, but they are very respectful towards their abusive and controlling mother.
  • Fake Action Prologue: The movie opens with Tarzan fleeing from what appears to be the monster Zugor. It's actually just a game he plays with Terk.
  • Full-Boar Action: While trying to figure out what he is, Tarzan attempts to befriend a young warthog, resulting in a whole sounder of hogs attacking him.
  • The Hermit: Zugor is an elderly gorilla living all by himself.
  • Horrifying the Horror: Even Sabor, the most terrifying predator in the jungle, runs from the Zugor's calls.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Zugor looks very much like George Carlin as an ape, complete with a bald forehead and a grey beard-like tuft on his chin.
  • Interquel: Takes place between in Time Skip of the first movie.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Zugor. He scares the other animals so that they leave him alone, and is initially very dismissive of Tarzan and insensitive to his problems, but he softens up to the boy once he realizes they are similar.
  • Kick the Dog: Kago is introduced as playing with a mouse - that is, blocking the way of the scared rodent with his fists, just for kicks.
  • Killer Gorilla: Kago is an aggressive gorilla who takes pleasure in smashing things.
  • Laughably Evil: In contrast to the antagonists of the first movie, Mama Gunda and her sons Kago and Uto are silly, comical villains.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the original movie, this one is less violent and a lot more kid-friendly. The villains are incompetent and Laughably Evil, and the greatest apparent threat (the Zugor monster) is just imaginary.
  • Love Redeems: Mama Gunda does a full Heel–Face Turn when she and Zugor realize their attraction to each other.
  • Mama Bear: Kala charges at Kago and Uto, who are at least twice as big as her, when they threaten one of the gorilla babies as well as Tarzan.
  • Manchild: Kago and Uto are both fully-grown male gorillas rivaling Kerchak in size, but have the personality of little boys.
  • Metaphorgotten: Mama Gunda's bedtime story about three little frogs is meant to be a clear allegory to her and her sons' situation, but soon it devolves into an evil monologue ignoring the frog metaphor.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Wildebeest, giraffes, warthogs, and gazelles are shown living in the jungle.
  • My Beloved Smother: Gunda is a very overbearing mother to Kago and Uto.
  • Mythology Gag: When Zugor tells Tarzan to stay in the far corner of his shelter, Tarzan mutters "Me Tarzan, you grouch", an obvious play on "Me Tarzan, you Jane".
  • Non-Standard Character Design: The oxpecker perching on the rhinoceros that competes with Zugor for fruit has a very zany, cartoony design, complete with Feather Fingers, compared to the somewhat realistic design of the other animals in the movie.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Zugor realizes that he and Tarzan are not that different after discussing that both of them have been cast out of their gorilla troop (Zugor because of his old age, Tarzan because of his species).
  • No, You: When Kago calls Uto a "banana brain", he responds with this (while accidentally pointing at himself).
  • Outliving One's Offspring: A few years after losing her own child to Sabor, Kala believes she lost Tarzan too after he falls off a cliff in a storm.
  • Rhino Rampage: As Zugor forages for food, he encounters an angry rhino who takes his food. He attempts to scare away the rhino by the "Zugor monster" act, but Tarzan blows his cover, resulting in the rhino chasing both of them.
  • Scarecrow Solution: Zugor uses a hollow tree trunk to amplify his voice, and some light effects to cast a gigantic shadow, pretending to be a monster.
  • Sequel Escalation: Inverted, the movie is a much more low-key story than the original movie, with fewer life-threatening situations and more Laughably Evil villains, focusing on Tarzan's childhood.
  • Small Parent, Huge Child: Uto and Kago are huge gorillas who are huger and more muscular than their mother Gunda (who is also a gorilla).
  • Vine Swing: Tarzan begins to realize who he really is after he discovers his skills with this. He also uses his swinging skills to rescue Kala in the climax.

'Cause you'll be in my heart,
Yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on, now and forevermore
You'll be in my heart,
No matter what they say
You'll be here in my heart, always...

Alternative Title(s): Tarzan II


Trashing the Camp Site

The animals have a musical number, but all Jane and Tarzan see and hear is them trashing the camp site.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / CuttingBackToReality

Media sources: