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Sunday, February 5, 2012

My 100 Worst Movies of the 90's - 50 - Jungle 2 Jungle (1997)

Jungle 2 Jungle (1997; Walt
Disney Pictures)

We are in the middle of an era (thanks mainly to the success of The Office) of American remakes of foreign films and television.  Still, this is a trend that’s been going on for some time and one of the worst example of this trends is the 1997 mess Jungle 2 Jungle.  A fish-out-of water film that is only slightly better than the French film that was its inspiration, entitled Little Indian, Big City (Remember that title, you’ll be seeing it again).

The film centers on a stock broker played by a desperate Tim Allen who flies from New York to the Amazon to finalize his divorce with his anthropologist wife only to find he has a teenage son he never knew about.  For the purposes of plot contrivance, he takes the kid back to New York with him and zaniness ensues.  We get lots of jokes about how dumb people who aren’t from America are.  You know?  Like, hunting house cats for food, peeing on potted plants, climbing on buildings and other things for no reason, and carrying a bow and quiver around.  How delightfully xenophobic!

Little arguments of irrational intolerance and ignorance aside, Jungle 2 Jungle is a laugh-free, boring film with lots of little unnecessary subplots and a very, very annoying performance by Martin Short.  There’s stuff about a scary Russian gangster and something about selling some stocks at a certain price but it is all just padding.  This is a bad concept from the start and the fact that Disney thought the original justified an American remake is telling of how desperate they were for ideas in the 90’s (And this was BEFORE they started turning their theme park rides into movies).

This little mess was directed by John Pasquin, who's career is comprised mostly of behind-the-camera work on failed television shows from the 80's and 90's. He was the director of Home Improvement, a charming little piece of sitcom mediocrity as well as The Santa Clause, a successful family comedy from 1994 also starring Tim Allen. His last two major theatrical film releases were the incredibly dull and forgettable Joe Somebody (yet ANOTHER Tim Allen vehicle) and Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, arguably one of the dumbest sequels of the aughts.

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