George, George, George of the Jungle strong as he can be! Then he gargles wildly and slams into a tree. Hey, that still rhymed. Anyway, George of the Jungle is another movie that played almost constantly during my childhood.
I still have the VHS tape somewhere, but I’m pretty sure it’s close to falling apart.
The basic plot of the film is that there was an airplane crash a long time ago and a little baby boy named George was lost. Instead of dying in the wild jungles of Bukuvu, a play on Bukavu which in the Congo, he survives to become the Tarzan of the late 1990s, but he didn’t survive on his own as a talking ape named Ape voiced by John Cleese took George in and raised him into the sexy, sweaty, long-haired, barely-literate protagonist he becomes.
In Bukuvu, tales of George start to circulate and he becomes the mythical White Ape in the jungle. Apparently the cries out in the night looking for his mate, so when Ursula Stanhope, portrayed by Leslie Mann, arrives in the jungle on a safari the rom com ensues.
To recap: boy survives plane crash, grows up in a jungle raised by apes, meets a human woman, starts to get romantic with her, and somehow everything ends happily.
I could see this film ending in an entirely different way usually resulting with George losing his shit when he’s ripped from his “natural” environment and plunged into the metallic jungle of San Francisco.
Generally speaking cases of people raised by animals don’t end very well…
Anyway, there are also a lot of unanswered questions about George and how he managed to survive for so long.
George’s youth was very troubled
So George is about 26-years-old in the film and was lost perhaps around 2-years-old. That’s a good 24 years that he spent around animals and luckily for him most of them were pretty friendly since he doesn’t have any scars, he doesn’t have any missing limbs, and I’m pretty sure his junk is in tact.
Now I don’t know about everyone else, but growing up even within our own society was confusing and scary. We go through all of these changes that are unexplained and you start to have these strange things called “feelings” toward people of the opposite or same gender.
It’s a rough time for everyone and we all need a little guidance to get through it. Unfortunately for George, his only real guide through this time in his life in an Ape named Ape. It also doesn’t help that he doesn’t seem to know anything about human mating rituals other than giving George some misguided help early in the film.
Anyway, back to his youth. There was probably a time when Ape saw George not as a human, but merely as a strange looking gorilla baby. It’s a reaction you see in animals that take animals of other species into their packs. From his behaviour, it seems that George was expected to take part in the rituals of the gorillas around him.
So did he have to mate?
I mean, when you’re at a certain age as a human you start to get urges and who says that he wouldn’t be given the same chance to relieve those as the other gorillas.
The problem is according to some RESEARCH, gorilla mating and reproduction can be a little tricky at times. There’s no real timeline for when males become fertile enough to reproduce and females menarche early on in life and are ready to have babies by about 9-years-old.
Male gorillas will also often travel alone away from their natal group in order to join other packs to prevent inbreeding within the species. Females do not travel, but they are the sex of the species that initiates mating.
So if a female gorilla was born around the same time as George arrived, the protagonist could be expected to get down and dirty with her by about 11 or 12 years old.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to have sex with a gorilla… but leave a comment if you think otherwise. Basically, from a little more RESEARCH, gorillas have about twice the strength of a human being. That means that they could probably rips out our arms should they choose to.
As a young human being living among gorillas, George would have to be very careful not to anger the other males or anger the females. Either outcome even when he is older and strong enough to lift a lion is him probably losing more than just a limb in a fight.
It’s a good thing he has Ape to protect him from everyone else, but he’s also a problem.
Ape kidnapped George
Ape is George’s guardian and supposedly saved him from what could have been a terrible way to go in the jungle. Anyway, Ape in the film is very well-spoken, as he should be being voice by John Cleese, but his intelligence begs certain questions.
If Ape is so damn smart and human, why didn’t he return George to the nearest human village as soon as he found him? Instead, he decided to keep George and raise him as an ape.
There’s nothing in the film that says Ape was initially as literate as he is in the film, so maybe he learned English as a result of the crash and the materials strewn from the luggage. Even then, Ape should know that George simply doesn’t fit in and should have returned him.
So why does Ape keep George around?
As we see at the very end of the film, Ape had some other reasons for keeping George around. Using his newfound connections to the Stanhope family, he is able to escape the Congo and get a show on the Las Vegas Strip. He ends up singing in some club for what is probably a handsome wage, but he probably gets paid in bananas since he’s a freaking gorilla and thus doesn’t have the same rights as humans.
That hypothesis is even a little farfetched for me.
Anyway, I think Ape is probably one of the most problematic characters in the film. He’s clearly very intelligent and wise, yet he doesn’t see the wisdom in letting George return to his own community early on in life.
Imagine if he was always at the same level of intelligence. He would have seen the rescue parties looking for George in the jungle, so why didn’t he just return him in the night? There must have been countless tour guides and groups visiting the jungles throughout the years, why not just send George to them? He had the opportunity, yet Ape decides to keep George.
Then Ursula Stanhope arrives to take George away, but Ape doesn’t seem to care. He doesn’t react as a father would toward someone trying to take away his son, yet George really doesn’t see Ape as a father figure.
They have a very strange relationship, but it isn’t the worst in the film.
Ursula is a human trafficker
Ursula Stanhope is a wealthy heiress from San Francisco who is saved from a terrible lion by George of the Jungle in… the jungle near to the start of the film. She ends up spending a lot of time with the sweaty vine swinger because she apparently doesn’t have much else to do.
At some point in the film, Ursula is confronted by her fiancee Lyle Van De Groot after he and his goons find her in George’s tree house. Lyle tries to scare George away using a fake gun-shaped lighter only to realize too late that it was an actual gun.
He shoots George in the head, George somehow survives, Lyle goes to prison in the mother fucking Congo, and George ends up on a plane to San Francisco a few days later.
She uses her family’s money to fund sneaking a human being from the Congo into the United States. There was no repatriation process shown in the film nor any intervention on part of the United States government in George’s case.
Anyway, once George is in San Francisco, Ursula does the only responsible thing for a man who was clearly lost for many years and likely estranged from his family… she keeps him in her apartment with apparently no plans on what to do next.
George who is now alone in the United States escapes from the apartment and runs amok in downtown San Francisco. He gets onto the streetcar without paying, he smashes through a wedding cake, and he ends up taking part in a stunt on the Golden Gate Bridge to save a stranded parachutist.
I find it strange that the journalists who end up filming George during his rescue attempt didn’t think to speak with him. Imagine if they found out he was a strange animal man who was smuggled into the country by a wealthy heiress. I’m pretty sure that would be a bit of a scandal.
So near to the end of the film, Ursula discovers that she’s really in love with George and that she wants to marry the weird animal beast man. Now, she’s had ample opportunity to spend time with George during her time in San Francisco, so she must have discovered that yes, he is a naive, but he also has the mind and maturity of a three year old.
The same dilemma as presented in the films 13 Going on 30, Big, and I guess Benjamin Button but in reverse. Basically, you have someone who is very young who ends up magically getting older. Jennifer Garner, Tom Hanks, and Brad Pitt in their respective roles end growing from their experiences, but none of them spent 20 years living among Apes.
They almost all end up having sex at some point during their grown up experience, so it follows that at some point Ursula and George will end up having sex. If you took a gander at the section above, George has either had two experiences with sex leading up to his interactions with Ursula. He’s either been totally isolate from sex because of Ape’s protection or he’s ended up mating with a number of female gorillas.
Having just watched a bunch of videos of gorillas mating and wishing that I hadn’t, I can tell you the kind of sex our two species has really isn’t compatible. George will likely end up hurting Ursula during their first experiences with sexuality not to mention the other conundrum in that George has pretty much the mind of a child.
At the end of the movie, Ursula and George end up getting married in the jungle together. In the direct-to-VHS sequel in 2003, it’s revealed that they had a son and that he’s grown up in the jungle (I think, I never actually watched it).
Things ended up turning out pretty well for George in the end, but I can envision a version of this film that is very different and much darker in nature. So many things could have gone wrong with George, but luckily this is a romantic comedy.
Anyway that’s just my two cents. Come back next time for a dissection of A Bug’s Life.