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Jungle 2 Jungle

Starring Tim Allen and Sam Huntington;
JoBeth Williams, Lolita Davidovich and Martin Short
Screenplay by Bruce A. Evans & Raynold Gideon
Directed by John Pasquin

Jungle 2 Jungle is based on the French film Un Indien Dans la Ville. As always, Cranky makes no comparison to the Source Material.

Comedic films are the reason that Cranky makes every effort to sit with a real audience, rather than in a comfy chair at a private screening. In the case of Jungle 2 Jungle it is a saving grace for a movie that is passably cute, but of tremendous delight to the kidlets who surrounded me. I should know, I brought three of 'em myself. (Well, it was really the boss and his wife and their kids, but that's besides the point).

Jungle 2 Jungle features the same producers and big star (Tim Allen) as the riotous "The Santa Clause," but doesn't deliver the same kinds of yuks. That is Cranky's opinion. The kidlets all around me loved it, and said so loudly on the way out. This is what you get . . .

. . . you get gorgeous Venezuelan scenery and some equally gorgeous shots of Manhattan, home of job-obsessed commodities trader Michael Cromwell (Allen), an equally self-obsessed fiance named Charlotte (Lolita Davidovich), and his frenetic partner Richard (Martin Short). Michael needs to shlep down to the Amazonian rain forest to get his ex-wife's signature on divorce papers. When he gets there he is shocked to discover the existence of a 13-year old son named Mimi-Siku (Sam Huntington), raised among the natives and about to undergo his tribe's rite of manhood. As a souvenir of his visit, Mimi gives his Dad the tribal name "baboon," before being he is assigned to return to his father's land to retrieve fire from the torch of the Statue of Liberty. That Dad also promised to bring him and wants to renege on that promise, is the first of several emotional spears to the heart that the movie tosses at you. With no screen chemistry between Allen and Huntington, the attempts fail and feel manipulative.

The clash of cultures between Mimi's jungle home and Michael's New York jungle is supposed to deliver the laughs, and it does. Sort of. What really delivers the laughs is a blow gun filled with anesthetic darts and its mis-use by Allen. There is a gag involving Charlotte's cat that blew the entire audience away -- you see part of it in the TV commercial, but there's more and Tim Allen plays it for all it's worth.

Mimi's hunting habits, and his peculiar taste in pets, supply most of the gags but physical comedy supplies most of the yuks. Just goes to show that you can't beat up on a snakes, fish, and flies, but you can throw grown up humans off a house's balcony. Not funny to me, but the kids love it.

If Cranky was still anal retentive about story logic, there are dozens of story points I could take issue with. But I won't, because Jungle 2 Jungle only seeks to be a sweet, simple family movie. Jungle 2 Jungle is a TV level comedy that will enthrall the little ones for hours when it rolls in your VCR's. As a pay-real-money-for-it movie, it's just an OK way to spend a couple of hours in the dark with kids in tow. Eight year olds will disagree (although the boy next to me thought the kissing part was icky) and four year olds will adore it.

The really good part, from an adult's view was Davidovich's performance as the ditzy, totally in love with herself fiancee. There's also a coffee futures selling sub-plot that sets up a lot of the physical comedy and brings M*A*S*H's David Ogden Stiers to the screen with a blustery performance and a Russian accent. Stiers knows how to play pomposity and it's fun.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Jungle 2 Jungle, he would have paid...


'Cuz, ultimately, Jungle 2 Jungle will be a good family rental. On the big screen now, considered as an adult dating flick, Jungle 2 Jungle misses the mark by a mile.

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