The DVD cover. If only we’d seen this before we sat down to watch the film…
This god-awful German film is something that some of us in the Basement decided to watch based on the strength of the DVD menu, which showed a fifteen second clip of people falling all over the place and getting mauled by lions. (One of us even Vined it.) We’d just had a grand old B-movie time watching the cult classic Raw Force (aka Kung-Fu Cannibals, 1982) and were prepared for a similarly-disreputable type of cinematic insanity. Having no idea what to make of A Crazy Jungle Adventure just yet, we put the disc in for a spin. We were then subjected to a movie which the first scene of the film features a burly, adventure Thug yelling to a ten year old Jungle Kid, “Hey, you little black bastard!!” We were stunned. “That’s the first line of dialogue? What the hell is this movie?!”
We assumed it would be some sort of gritty action Commando-type of thing based on the opening moments. The aforementioned Kid is the little buddy of James Mitchum (one of Robert’s sons, sleepwalking through most of the movie), who lives a quiet life in a jungle, somewhere, for some reason. After Mitchum beats up that racist bunch of thugs who dared approach him, the Kid is abducted and the Thugs use him as leverage to force Mitchum into their service. Sounds promising so far, right?
The “service” is to pilot a plane of goofy Passengers on a vacation, of all things. That plane, though, is rigged to crash so that the Owner (who resembles Peter Boyle playing Danny DeVito’s role in Romancing the Stone) can collect on the insurance with the added bonus of killing his kinda-sorta enemy, Mitchum… The Vacationers really don’t matter to anyone in the scenario. Especially not to us in the audience.
Somehow the Kid escapes his captors and ends up on that plane which then crashes quite safely with Mitchum, the Kid and the Passengers — who include lusty teenagers, an older couple and a total moron buffoon who must be Germany’s version of Roberto Benigni, only without the charm or likeability. After a wacky scene or two in which this cast of hootenanny explores the island, the next thing you know everyone’s being set upon by dozens of growling, hungry-looking lions and tigers and cheetahs. We settled in for what we hoped would be some Ten Little Indians meets Jurassic Park style animal-on-human carnage. And then… the lions and other vicious animals… start kissing everyone and playing games with them. I’m not kidding. They’re all tame and friendly and here to help the humans get along just fine. Forty-five minutes of buildup and we get nutty shenanigans where kids ride lions all over the place and Herr Benigni makes friends with a giant tortoise and a seal. (A seal… In the jungle.)
The Badguys come to inspect the wreckage and boom, the animals attack them – since they’re the Badguys, and all – and everyone goes home at the end, except for the Kid and Mitchum, who stays on to live in sexy, sandy beach sin with the Jungle Girl who took him on an elephant tour of the island — and completely out of the movie — for a good twenty minutes. I… I can’t even begin to make sense of this thing. It makes the Home Alone movies look like David Mamet masterpieces. The scenes in which the animals are all docile and loving are sort of heart-melty cute though. At least until the weird moments we get glimpses of what must have happened just as the film quickly transitions to the next scene — moments like when the giant tortoise fell off the roof of a building and probably got killed and an obviously tranquilized tiger decides its had enough and comes very, very close to biting an actor’s face off. We’re guessing the carnage we were looking for all took place off-camera.
We wanted something crazy and adventurous and got neither. Mark, at least, was smartly prepared for the silly family film aspects of the picture. But all any of us really wanted was anything of interest to happen. After a few minutes, Tim and I were praying for some dark or violent fate to befall at least half of the characters in the film. Especially Benigni Guy.
Mark reminds us that the DVD of this film out of print… so not only did we watch a terrible German family film, we watched a hard to find, terrible German family film. So unless you’re really seeking it out, it’s unlikely that you’d be able to experience A Crazy Jungle Adventure for yourself.
You’re better off.