Tarzan - A-
Viewed June 19, 1999 at Lincoln Square

The first non-musical Disney animated flick (even if it does hedge its bets by including some cheeseball Phil Collins songs) since The Rescuers Down Under, Tarzan captures perfectly one of the basic appeals of the whole Tarzan mythos: an exuberant motion through air and the jungle where the laws of physics are an afterthought. Other Tarzan films, good as some of there are, have always felt earthbound. Not this one; Tarzan (excellent animation work by Glen Keane[1] and his crew) flies through the air with the greatest of ease and moves through the jungle like a skateboarder doing a grind on a stairway rail, accompanied by hyperkinetic yet graceful camerawork that's a Sam Raimi wet dream.

The story isn't half bad, either: they've stripped Tarzan to its bare thematic ideas of identity, the major motif behind the Disney animations since Pinocchio. It's handled gracefully, with a continuing visual representation of hands against hands. It sounds corny, but it works. How the film juggles between the use of Ape and English, BTW, is a primer on how to handle language in film. The vocal characterization (except for Rosie O'Donnell's annoying Turk) is superb throughtout, with exceptionally good work from Minnie Driver, who gives Jane a mercurial screwball personality. She's far funnier than the film's intended comic relief. If Jane were flesh-and-blood, instead of ink-and-paint, my male-geek hormones would be in serious overdrive.[2]

[1]Interesting factoid: he's the son of Bil "Family Circus" Keane. (And, may I add, more talented.)
[2]Justin, you're not the only one.