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Laramie Movie Scope:
Mighty Joe Young

Disney updates an old King Kong sequel

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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August 31, 1999 -- "Mighty Joe Young" is a remake of the 1949 film starring Ben Johnson and Robert Armstrong. Armstrong also starred in the 1933 classic film "King Kong," which set the standard for giant monster movies.

While this film is no "King Kong," it is cute, with convincing giant gorilla special effects and good performances by the lead actors. This particular version is made by Disney studios, so there are lots of cute animals, including a very cute baby mountain gorilla named Joe.

Joe, of course, grows up, and up, and up to become Mighty Joe Young. Separated at birth from his mother who was killed by an evil poacher, Strasser (Rade Serbedzija of "The Saint"), the giant gorilla is cared for by Jill Young (Charlize Theron) the daughter of a scientist who was also killed by Strasser. Jill manages to keep Joe's existence in a remote African jungle a secret until he is discovered by Gregg O'Hara, a wildlife biologist (Bill Paxton of "Twister").

O'Hara persuades Jill and Joe to come to America where they will be safe in a special wildlife preserve. Everything seems to work out O.K. until Strasser finds out about Joe's existence. Strasser, who was wounded by Joe years ago, wants revenge. That sets up the conflict around which the last part of the film revolves.

Good special effects and good acting by Paxton, Theron and Serbedzija (who is a great villain) put this film over the top. It is a standard kind of Disney film, with animals in danger, but there aren't many kids in the film, instead, there's a love story between O'Hara and Jill. It isn't high art, but it is fun. It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 1999 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)