Picks and Pans Review: Tarzan, the Ape Man
"I'm still a virgin, what are you?" asks Bo Derek's Jane of Miles O'Keeffe's uncomprehending Ape Man. With lines like that, it's no wonder Tarzan finds it more sensible just to yell. Despite the claims by the estate of creator Edgar Rice Burroughs that Bo and her director-husband, John Derek, have profaned him in this $5.5 million mom-and-pop production, Tarzan isn't around long enough to make an impression. He isn't even seen the first hour. Then he swings in, bundles Bo off to his tree house and stares at her like a mooning Malibu lifeguard. Though Derek keeps the setting in 1910, he and screenwriters Tom Rowe and Gary Goddard have insinuated feminist attitudes into Jane so that she can seem an early free spirit beset by sexist double standards. Her adventurer father, woefully overplayed by Richard Harris, orders her around and nurses thoughts of incest. "I wallow in myself," says hambone Harris, who might be speaking for the director. Without success, Derek tries to make the film lofty instead of capitalizing on the jungle fantasy with which Tarzan made its bundle in past incarnations. His photography is unyieldingly pretentious (the focus isn't soft, it's marshmallow), and his slow-motion effects in action scenes are infuriating. When all else fails, he ogles Bo. Whether swimming in the nude, frolicking topless with the animals or teaching Tarzan a new way to count to 10, she's admittedly enough to make a monkey out of any man. The movie may die on the vine, but it will make a terrific calendar. (R)
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