'Jungle 2 Jungle' wastes its potential for cheeky comedy

March 07, 1997|By Chris Kridler | Chris Kridler,SUN STAFF

"Jungle 2 Jungle" stumbles from bungle to bungle.

Tim Allen stars in this Disney remake of a popular French film, released here last year as "Little Indian, Big City." This time, the setting is New York, not Paris.

Allen plays a self-absorbed Wall Street trader engaged to a spoiled fashion designer (Lolita Davidovich). Before the wedding, he must travel to South America to get a divorce from wife No. 1 (Jo-Beth Williams), doctor to a tribe in the rain forest.

Armed with a portable computer, he ventures into the wilderness and is shocked to learn he has a teen-age son who's been raised by the natives.

The tribal chief tells the boy, Mimi-Siku (Sam Huntington), to bring back the fire from the Statue of Liberty as proof of his manhood, so his reluctant dad is persuaded to take his loincloth-clad kid to New York.

On his dubious quest, the likable young man climbs buildings, shoots his blowgun, nails pigeons with arrows, terrorizes everyone with his giant spider and causes occasionally funny havoc. (The poisonous Goliath bird-eating spider, the largest in the world, can live to be 30 years old. If only the movie had told us something that interesting.)

Meanwhile, Allen is embroiled in a ridiculously contrived plot involving a huge purchase of coffee beans that entangles him and a cohort (Martin Short, whose ample talent is wasted here) with the Russian mafia and its "caviar king" (David Ogden Stiers). Not credible. Not funny.

As the heart of the movie, Allen is in cardiac arrest. Charmless and so wooden he cries out for Minwax, he never makes us feel anything for what should be a cheeky, touching, father-son relationship. He isn't helped by the awkward pacing of John Pasquin's film, which, despite fine production values, alternates between cliched homages to the cityscape, mostly boring slapstick and failed attempts at sentimentality. Not surprisingly, Pasquin also directed the creaky Allen vehicle "The Santa Clause."

"Jungle 2 Jungle" should have gone Straight 2 Video.

'Jungle 2 Jungle'

Starring Tim Allen and Sam Huntington

Directed by John Pasquin

Released by Walt Disney Pictures

Rating PG (minor violence, iffy language, kissing)

Sun score*

Pub Date: 3/07/97

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