You’ll be in my heart. That song punctuates the soundtrack of the final movie of the Disney Renaissance, “Tarzan.” The Walt Disney Animation Studios offers up its take on the popular ape man.
This is my least favorite film of the Disney Renaissance, but the films from that era of Disney animation make up some of the best in the Disney canon, so it’s still a really good movie. It’s really cool to see how the apes take in Tarzan, raise him as one of their own and how he struggles to communicate with the humans he meets. Tarzan and Jane are one of the iconic duos of pop culture and this take on them is quite interesting. I love seeing Jane teach Tarzan to be more human while his upbringing as an ape helps him to help her when it matters most. You wouldn’t think a prim and proper researcher and a man of the jungle would find love, but they do, in typical Disney fashion, and it’s one of the best storylines in the Disney canon.
Phil Collins writes and performs the majority of music for this film and the legendary musician delivers with one of the best soundtracks in a Disney film. It’s not the musical fare of Ashman and Menken. But, it’s very similar to Sir Elton John’s work in “The Lion King.” It’s a wonderful blend of pop music with Disney lyrics to help bring the music to life and help advance the story in “Tarzan.”
Clayton is one of the more interesting villains in the Disney canon. His motivation seems to be pure evil. He doesn’t understand the relationship between humans and gorillas, he just wants to collect the gorillas because he’s been paid to do so. This film does a great job of explaining how a lack of understanding could have devastating consequences. The lead gorilla, Kerchak, is afraid anything that’s not normally in the jungle will hurt the family. He’s reluctant to let Tarzan join as a baby and vehemently forbids anyone to bring other humans around. While Clayton confirms his fears, Jane and her father, defy them. There’s a wonderful world where humans and gorillas can live in harmony, but neither Clayton nor Kerchak are willing to learn the differences. They are set in their ways, whether its greed of payment or pride in protection.
Two of the most interesting supporting characters in this film are Terk and Tantor. The gorilla and elephant are voiced by two of the most iconic voices of the 90s, Rosie O’Donnell and Wayne Knight. Personally, I enjoy Tarzan’s relationship with Tantor more than is relationship with Terk, but they are still two of the most important tertiary characters to the story. Their appearances help give us a greater understanding of Tarzan and his upbringing.
Overall, I really enjoy this movie every time I see it. It’s got an amazing soundtrack and easy to follow, yet exciting plot. It may be my least favorite of the Disney Renaissance films, but it’s still one of the best in the Disney canon.
Ranking: 3.5 stars out of 5.
What did you think of “Tarzan?”