Disney's latest foray into animation is certainly a worthy one. It rises to the same heights as Little Mermaid, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and Mulan, while surpassing the more forgettable Pocohantas, Hercules, and Hunchback. Based on Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, this adaptation is probably the most faithful both in story and in spirit. But this is a Disney movie, so you can expect the customary talking animal sidekicks. The story is well known to pretty much everyone. Tarzan was raised by apes. He is human in appearance only. He meets and falls in love with Jane, who is accompanying her father on a trip to Africa to search for gorillas.

In a change from their other animated musicals, the characters do not randomly burst out into song. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but at times it does get old. Instead. Phil Collins (of course, we think of Africa when we think of Phil Collins) serves as kind of a Greek chorus, with his occasional songs either revealing a little more about the story or moving the story along. The songs are adequate and (of course) radio friendly, and all composed by Collins. The rest of the music was composed by Mark Mancina (Con Air). Tony Goldwyn (A Walk on the Moon) is Tarzan, Minnie Driver (An Ideal Husband) is Jane, Rosie O'Donnell is Tarzan's gorilla buddy Terk, Wayne Knight (Neuman from Seinfeld) is Tantor the Elephant, and Glenn Close is Kala, Tarzan's gorilla mother, and only cast member to sing. Other characters include Lance Henriksen as Kerchak, the alpha male of the gorillas, Alex Linz (Home Along 3) as Young Tarzan, Nigel Hawthorne (The Winslow Boy) as Jane's father Professor Porter, and Brian Blessed (the voice of Boss Nass in Star Wars Episode I) as Clayton. You know Clayton is the bad guy because of his sneer and Jay Leno-like chin.

Much hoopla has surrounded Disney's use of "deep canvas," a technique that seems to make trees and branches more lifelike as Tarzan flies through them. It truly is a spectacular sight watching him swoop between and around branches that seem to come out of the background. The background animation seems incredibly realistic, nearer trees move across the screen faster than trees farther away while Tarzan joyfully leaps between the branches and vines. Disney has also succeeded in conveying to the audience the feelings of the characters. We feel the Tarzan's sadness as he realizes that he is different from the other gorillas. We can also sense the awe he feels when he first catches sight of Jane, Porter, and Clayton, and of Jane and Porter's fascination with both Tarzan and the apes.

Tarzan is a movie that everyone can enjoy. Kids will like it because it is a Disney movie, has the customary slapstick humor, and talking animals. Adults will also enjoy it for its spectacular animation and truly moving story. Since it is a Disney animated movie, it is rated G, even though some parts may be a little too exciting or scary for smaller children.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 28 minutes, Rated G.

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