Disney's Tarzan not only swings, he deftly surfs the lush vegetation of the African jungle as he seeks out his place in the world. Disney's latest animated extravaganza succeeds on every level, from animation to music to style and storytelling. While the music of most recent Disney features often overpowered the narrative and visuals, Phil Collins' score subtly complements the action, and there is action a-plenty.
Cutesy takes a back seat to intensity from the get-go, as a young family gets shipwrecked off the coast of Africa and a leopard makes lunch of the parents, leaving an orphaned toddler. A grieving gorilla, Kala (voice of Close), who lost one of her young to the leopard, finds the child and adopts him, despite strong opposition from her mate, Kerchak (voice of Henriksen).
Tarzan (voice of Goldwyn) does his best to fit in (he “walks” on his knuckles), though he's painfully aware of the differences between man and ape. Nevertheless, he establishes his place in the jungle. When a trio of Brits — a professor (voice of Hawthorne), his spunky daughter, Jane (voice of Driver), and their expedition leader who turns out to be a rapacious poacher (voice of Blessed) — descend upon the jungle, Tarzan loses all sense of identity and place. He's torn between his love for Jane and his love for his family and faces the possibility of leaving the jungle for London.
Disney has come a long way since Ariel and Jasmine — Jane is a plucky, independent woman who doesn't need to don her own loincloth to win Tarzan's affections.