George of the Jungle
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySam Weisman
Screenplay by
Story byDana Olsen[1]
Based onGeorge of the Jungle
by Jay Ward
Produced by
Narrated byKeith Scott
CinematographyThomas E. Ackerman[1]
Edited by
  • Stuart Pappé[1]
  • Roger Bondelli[1]
Music byMarc Shaiman[1]
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution[1]
Release date
  • July 16, 1997 (1997-07-16)
Running time
92 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States[1]
Budget$55 million[2][3]
Box office$174.4 million[3]

George of the Jungle is a 1997 American comedy film directed by Sam Weisman and based on the Jay Ward cartoon of the same name, which is also a spoof of Tarzan. The film was produced by Walt Disney Pictures and was released in theatres on July 16, 1997. It stars Brendan Fraser as the title character, a primitive man who was raised by animals in an African jungle, Leslie Mann as his love interest, and Thomas Haden Church as her treacherous former fiancé. The film grossed $174 million worldwide. A direct-to-video sequel, George of the Jungle 2, was released on DVD in 2003.


The film opens with an animated sequence, a plane flying through the Bukuvu region in the heart of Africa crashes. A child on board the plane, George, disappears into the jungle and is raised by a sapient, talking gorilla named Ape. Twenty-five years later, George, who enjoys swinging on vines to move about but habitually crashes into trees, has grown to be King of the Jungle.

While touring Uganda with local guide Kwame and a trio of porters, San Francisco heiress Ursula Stanhope is tracked down and joined by her fiancé, Lyle Van De Groot, with two poachers named Max and Thor. Kwame tells the group of the "White Ape", a local legend of a superhuman primate that rules the jungle. The next day, Lyle, insistent on taking Ursula home as soon as possible, goes into the jungle with her to find the White Ape and they are attacked by a lion. Lyle knocks himself out trying to flee while Ursula is saved by the King of the Jungle, George, who takes Ursula to his tree house home and cares for her, introducing her to his three animal friends, Ape, Shep, an Asian elephant that acts like George's dog, and Tookie, a toco toucan. George is smitten with Ursula and attempts to woo her; Ursula reciprocates his attraction, and her time spent with George makes her no longer wish to return home.

Lyle, Max and Thor find the treehouse and Lyle confronts Ursula and George. Max and Thor make to shoot Shep for his ivory, and Ape shouts at Shep to run. Everyone is stunned by the sight of a talking ape and Max and Thor decide to tranquilize and capture him. George runs to stop them and is accidentally shot by Lyle, who thought his gun was a novelty lighter. Lyle and the poachers are imprisoned and Lyle is identified as the shooter by the porters; Max and Thor are released and resolve to capture Ape to make a fortune in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Ursula takes George home to get medical help for his wound and to see the human world he belongs in.

While Ursula is at work, George explores San Francisco and uses his vine-swinging to rescue a paraglider that got tangled in the Bay Bridge. Ursula, uninterested in marrying Lyle, admits the truth to her parents, but her overbearing mother Beatrice objects. At a party intended to celebrate Ursula's engagement, Beatrice takes George aside and coldly tells him she will not let Ursula's engagement fall apart, and refuses to let George be with her. In Africa, Max and Thor capture Ape, who manages to order Tookie to find George before he falls unconscious. Tookie flies to San Francisco and George returns to the jungle, leaving Ursula in the night. While comforted by her parents, Ursula realizes she loves George and goes to find him; though Beatrice is dismayed, her father is more approving.

Ape tricks the poachers into circling the jungle and returning to the treehouse where George confronts and fights them. During the fight, they try to defeat him by tickling him, but George somehow endured and eventually incapacitated them with a little help from Ursula and his animal friends. However, Lyle arrives: the narrator explains that Lyle escaped prison, joined a cult, and is now an ordained minister. Lyle has the mercenaries he brought with him subdue George and takes Ursula to the nearby Ape River, where he has a boat waiting to escape while he performs a marriage ceremony. However, the river is a harsh series of rapids that hurtle the two into danger. George escapes the mercenaries and performs a big swing to reach Ursula and Lyle, only to crash painfully into a massive tree. The impact was so hard that the tree falls over the river and he pulls Ursula to safety. Lyle ends up in a cave and, believing he is still sharing the boat with Ursula, proclaims them wedded; he lights his lighter and beholds that he just married himself to a gorilla.

George and Ursula declare their love for each other and marry, with Ursula moving into George's treehouse. Some time later, the two are raising a son, George Jr., who they present to the animals from atop Pride Rock. Meanwhile, Ape moves to Las Vegas and becomes a famous stage performer with Max and Thor as props.


A promotional poster for George of the Jungle featuring Fraser as George.
A promotional poster for George of the Jungle featuring Fraser as George.


Gorilla suit performers


The lion, elephant, and bird scenes were all filmed with a mix of real animals, puppetry (especially for the lion fight), and CGI (to show Shep the elephant acting like a dog). The scenes with the orangutan, a chimpanzee, and the capuchin monkeys were filmed with live animals, but some computer work was used in a scene wherein the little monkey imitates George.[6]

The large gorillas who live with George were all costumed actors who were Henson puppeteers. Their faces were remote-controlled animatronic heads, which, along with the yak fur gorilla suits, were provided by Jim Henson's Creature Shop.[7][6] Other effects were provided by Dream Quest Images.[7][8]

In the "Pride Rock" scene, when George presents his son to the animals, CGI work is again used.[6]

The jungle setting was constructed on a stage in Playa Del Rey, Los Angeles. The stage was 750 feet long, 71 feet high at the peak, 90 feet wide.[7]


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December 2014)

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a score of 56% based on 54 reviews and an average rating of 5.5/10. The site's consensus states: "George of the Jungle is faithful to its source material—which, unfortunately, makes it a less-than-compelling feature film".[9] On Metacritic it has a weighted average score of 53% based on reviews from 18 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[10] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "B+" on scale of A to F.[11]

Roger Ebert awarded the movie three out of four stars, praising the film as "good-natured" and complimenting the cast's comedic performances.[12]

It was nominated for Best Fantasy film at the Saturn Awards.[citation needed]

Box office

The film debuted at No. 2 at the box office behind Men in Black and grossed $174.4 million worldwide.[13]


The film was followed by a direct-to-video sequel, George of the Jungle 2, which picks up five years after the original. Most of the major characters were re-cast using different actors, although Keith Scott, Thomas Haden Church and John Cleese reprised their roles from the original.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "George of the Jungle (1997)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved October 9, 2021.
  2. ^ Eller, Claudia (1997-08-12). "COMPANY TOWN; The Heat Was On; Sun Shines on Studios This Summer After All". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-12.[dead link]
  3. ^ a b "George Of The Jungle (1997) - Financial Information". The Numbers.
  5. ^ Lawson, Terry (June 16, 1999). "'Tarzan' Yell". Knight-Ridder. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c "George of the Jungle". Humane Hollywood.
  7. ^ a b c Archerd, Army (November 26, 1996). "'George' crew creates urban 'Jungle'". Variety.
  8. ^ Hill, Jim (2003-01-14). "The sad tale of Disney's Secret Lab". as well as memorable CG characters like Shep (the elephant who thought that he was a dog)
  9. ^ "George of the Jungle". Rotten Tomatoes.
  10. ^ "George of the Jungle". Metacritic.
  11. ^ "GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE (1997) B+". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  12. ^ Roger Ebert (1997). "George Of The Jungle". Chicago Sun-Times.
  13. ^ "George Of The Jungle' Debut Can't Swing Past 'Men In Black". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-11-12.[dead link]