Michael Cromwell needs a divorce and fast, but when he arrives in the Venezuelan rainforest he’s shocked to find he has a son. Hoping to connect with the boy he brings him to NYC amidst both personal and professional upheaval. Can he learn to live and love again (and perhaps make big bucks on the commodity market) before it’s too late? Find out in… Jungle 2 Jungle.
How?! Michael Cromwell is an asshole, but the kind of asshole that is totally selfish and crushes the commodities market. He’s wheeling and dealing in the world of coffee while getting ready for his marriage to his high-fashion fiance, so what could go wrong? Maybe just a Sweet Home Alabama situation up in here. He’s still married and needs a divorce first. He heads on down Venezuela way to find his estranged wife in the rainforest where she lives with a secluded tribe. When he arrives there, he’s surprised to find he has a son, Mimi-Siku! And Mimi-Siku only knows the ways of the jungle. Egad. But let’s get back to that storyline that all the kids are clamoring to hear more about. What’s happening with all those coffee stocks our boy has bought (says the chorus of boys and girls in the theater)? Well while he was in the jungle he didn’t get a chance to sell them and now they are crashing. He and his partner have to try to unload them so they don’t lose everything. And that’s how they get mixed up with the Russian mob. What’s that? Mimi, who? Oh right, yeah so meanwhile Mimi-Siku comes back to NYC with Michael because he inadvertently promised that he would take him to the Statue of Liberty. When Mimi-Siku arrives he continually scares the bejeezus out of everyone with his giant tarantula, bows and arrows, and blow darts. Michael’s fiance is totally fed up cause she kinda sucks and moves out. Michael’s partner totally panics and go through with the deal with the Russian mob because Michael is busy bonding with Mimi-Siku. When the price of coffee continues to fall they demand their money back and Michael obliges only to have the stock rebound, further angering the mob. They take Michael and his partner’s family hostage, but Mimi-Siku uses his jungle skillz to take them all out and leave everyone rich and happy. Having realized that NYC is not his home, Mimi-Siku asks to go back to Venezuela only to be surprised when Michael shows up a short time later to live with him. THE END.
Why?! I mean, the film is founded on a mountain of happenstance. Michael finds out he has a son raised in the rainforest and handles it pretty well. It’s actually a little weird he isn’t more freaked out. The only explanation is that finding that he has a son stirred some strong paternal instincts within him… instincts so strong that they overtake his love of the high stakes world of commodity trading. That’s actually the largest source of motivation we get in the film: commodity trading. Everything in the film flows around the commodity trading storyline that, no joke, rivals or surpasses Mimi-Siku’s storyline in terms of scope.
Who?! Not typically one of our categories, but obviously this film has Leelee Sobieski in it as Mimi-Siku’s love interest (weird). Creeping ever closer to finishing her filmography. More interesting though is that her on-screen brother is played by Frankie Galasso… one of the members of the boy band Dream Street that everyone knows and loves. I went ahead and listened to their biggest hit and boy… it’s something.
What?! There is some obvious product placement sprinkled here and there. The Venezuelan natives play with Tim Allen’s electric razor and he screams in dismay that “it’s a Braun.” Tim Allen feeds his son some all-american delicious breakfast in the form of Cap’n Crunch… that sort of thing. Better than the props that were for sale, which for whatever reason all involve fake snakes.
Where?! Great world mapl.de.map setting as this is very clearly set in Venezuela for a surprising amount of the film. The other portion is set in NYC with the Statue of Liberty as the centerpiece. I would have actually considered giving this an A+ if it was set in Chicago… Jungle to Jungle, get it? But alas. Just an A for a very necessary NYC setting with Venezuela.
When?! Secret holiday film alert! After Michael Cromwell has learned to live and love again he takes Mimi-Siku to the Statue of Liberty. He explains that they’ll have to return in two days when it’s the 4th of July because the fireworks are spectacular. While we don’t actually get to celebrate the holiday on screen, we know that everything occurs right around that time, so I count it. C+.
I feel like the boy who cried wolf here because there have been a number of times where we’ve watched a remake of a film and remarked at how shockingly similar it is to the original. We oooohed and aaaaahed at the blatant disregard for creativity. Oh, but those were nothing compared to Little Indian, Big City and Jungle 2 Jungle. It made me question the nature of art after watching what is essentially a shot for shot remake of a film (down to the blocking of scenes and throwaway jokes). Really the only differences they had were the addition of some Tim Allen centric jokes (fart in a native hammock, blow darting of a cat, piranha on the finger… that sort of thing) and making Martin Short’s character slightly less of a child abuser idiot and more of just an idiot. They were so similar that after watching Jungle 2 Jungle first I was thoroughly bored in my viewing of the original as I was being forced to watch the same movie over again. Who would have thought being totally bored by a film would be so interesting from a BMT perspective. Totally worth it. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! We watched literally the same movie back to back. I’m not exaggerating. I’m stunned. Let’s get into it!
P’s View on the Preview – I think I saw at least a bit of this as a kid. Regardless the most exciting bit? Leelee Sobieski. I’m always excited to mark another one off for a BMT favorite’s filmography. She’s a literal child actress in this, so anything but a catastrophic performance would be quite good. I’m not going to sit here and rip into the acting of a teen actor. I’m not a monster.
The Good – Leelee Sobieski was fine. I would even argue she’s on par with Sam Huntington as Mimi-Siku. Now that I think about it … the acting was kind of alright throughout the film. It struck a nice contrast with the more slapstick French version, the acting itself was toned down while the props, sets, etc. were all kind of blown out of proportion. This was more normal people living in an exaggerated world, instead of exaggerated people living in a normal world … you know what I mean?
The Bad – I don’t actually think the film is that bad. Scattershot sure. But Tim Allen and the cast do a decent job at it. There are two major crimes here. First, this is a shot-for-shot remake of the original French film. I’ll get to that in a bit … but that’s just wild considering the original was released to theaters in the US the year prior. Second, the B-story involving the coffee options is so big and in your face and important to the story it is almost the A-story. A story about commodity speculation … is basically the primary storyline in a children’s film about a boy from the Amazon rainforest coming to live in New York City. Give me a goddamned break.
The BMT – I think this acts as an extremely interesting pair for BMT. A remake of a French film which itself has maybe the second worst dubbing I’ve ever seen (nothing will beat Roberto Begnini’s Pinocchio … which by the way he’s doing again). A literal shot-for-shot remake in fact. A perfect display of the difference between French and American humor as well. Something about it makes me love it, even if I don’t think Jungle 2 Jungle is a particularly good bad movie by itself.
Roast-radamus – I think there is a strong argument that Martin Short is a Planchet (Who?), although one that kind of holds his own. But his purpose is to be beaten up and humiliated. Sweet Cap’n Crunch Product Placement (What?) as well. Two punch Setting as a Character (Where?) for Venezuela and New York City. Very Minor Secret Holiday Film (When?) for the Fourth of July setting, and plausibly MacGuffin (Why?) with the B-story involving unloading coffee options with the Russian Mafia. If it got a twist it would have run the gamut! And yet I don’t think this gets a Good, Bad, or BMT in the end.
StreetCreditReport.com – As usual I can’t find a yearly list up to stuff, but like other films in this cycle it at the very least on Ebert’s worst of list of 1997. As a matter of fact there are so many terrible remakes of foreign films it doesn’t even get a nod on any of the lists I could find for that category.
Bring a Friend Analysis – For Jungle 2 Jungle we fortunately managed to get a pair of films which both fit into the category (Little Indian, Big City was on Ebert’s worst of list for 1996). And … these films are astonishingly close together. They utilize many of the same jokes (the woman saying “hot for you” on the computer, the spider and alligator chasing Tim Allen in the water, both spider scenes with the boss and the girlfriend, eating the fish), the story is really close as well. Basically just the end is slightly different. The original does have a pretty terrible dub, but I think both films have their relative charms (especially if you watched the subbed French films I’m sure). Adaptation .. can I give it both an F and A? It is too close to be worth it, but yet is the most faithful adaptation of a film I’ve ever seen. It is truly bizarre and well worth a Bring a Friend.