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Jewish World Review / Jan. 21, 2000 / 14 Shevat, 5760

Evan Levine

Di-vine animation of Disney's `Tarzan'

Walt Disney Home Video

After the first 10 minutes or so, "Tarzan," which has just been released on video, turns into one of the sprightliest and most entertaining Disney releases in years.

(In the first 10 minutes, several characters are killed off, leaving many children upset. Luckily, it's basically a plot device, and things pick up after that.)

The animated story follows Tarzan as he is raised by apes in the jungle after losing his parents as a baby.

The real story is how he gradually comes to realize he is human, thanks in part to his meeting the spunky Jane, who has come on an expedition with her father. The story has a lighter feel, livelier music and, in general, a more entertaining spirit than many recent Disney releases. It does have some upsetting moments, which may dismay young kids, dealing mainly with the loss of parents. However, kids will certainly identify with either Tarzan, whose tree-branch swinging has a power kids will love, or with Jane, who is one of the strongest and most engaging Disney heroines in years.

Parents, however, did have several caveats: "My son liked this, but he made up all sorts of reasons that Tarzan's parents disappeared," one mom confided. "He decided that they were still alive somewhere. Once he got into the movie, though, he had a good time."

Appropriateness: 7 -- Younger kids may well be disturbed by the theme of loss, especially, since it involves parents.

Visuals: 7 -- Action scenes are designed for speed and are great fun to watch; the whole movie has clean and often zippy animation.

Humor: 6 -- Jane, in particular, is quite funny, and the movie has a buoyant feel.

Believability: 6 -- Much of the movie has the ring of fantasy, although young kids may have trouble separating the real from the not-real.

Social Value: 7 -- A well-crafted approach to the Tarzan story.

Fun Factor: 7 -- More fun than any Disney movie in quite a while.

Toy Story
Walt Disney Home Video

Hot on the phenomenal success of "Toy Story 2," Disney is re-releasing the original "Toy Story" on video.

If you haven't seen it, do; if you have, see it again.

When 6-year-old Andy receives a fantastic Buzz Lightyear toy as a present, a rivalry is on between Buzz and Andy's favorite toy, the cowboy Woody. The two toys find themselves in a perilous position when they fall into the clutches of the nasty Sid, who lives next door and is decidedly creepy. Only by working together can the toys find their way back home to the person who loves them both.

The story is top-notch in terms of animation, plot lines, and voices, featuring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles and Annie Potts, among others. (The scenes with Sid are a little ghoulish, however.) It's a joyous celebration of the ability of kids to almost will their toys alive, filled with humor that will appeal to both adults and kids.

"I was thrilled when my son turned 5, because I felt he was finally old enough to see this," reported one mom, while Allison, 6, explained, "It's just the greatest movie ever. Except for the second one."

Appropriateness: 7 -- Some of the scenes with Sid and the creepy toys he concocts are genuinely scary, and could be nightmare fodder for young children. Better for kids ages 5 and up.

Visuals: 8 -- Truly great-looking, with fantastic animation and endearing characters.

Humor: 8 -- Witty and utterly charming, the movie combines slapstick, puns and just about every other kind of humor for a mix that will appeal to nearly everyone.

Believability: 8 -- The movie creates a series of magical and believable worlds, the most vivid being the world of the toys.

Social Value: 7 -- Among the very best of kids' movies in recent years: Just watch out for the scary stuff.

Fun Factor: 7 -- A first-rate story that has action, humor, pathos and just about everything else you could want.

Evan Levine is the author of "Kids Pick the Best Videos for Kids."


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