Mighty Joe Young (1998)

Genres - Adventure  |   Sub-Genres - Animal Picture, Family-Oriented Adventure, Jungle Film  |   Release Date - Dec 25, 1998 (USA)  |   Run Time - 114 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Michael Costello

Ron Underwood's remake of the 1949 fantasy is a fine film for children without necessarily being too dull for their parents. As in the original, Joe is a sweet-natured gorilla, which shouldn't be too surprising since he's been reared in the jungle by Charlize Theron, who plays the daughter of a scientist murdered by poachers. Again, Joe travels to America, becoming the poster gorilla for a charitable organization, though much of the story focuses on Theron's efforts to keep poacher Rade Serbedzija and some greedy scientists from exploiting her surrogate son. Theron and her love interest, played by Bill Paxton, are adequate to the task, but in a film of this kind, the humans are not really the point. Most notable are the superb special effects, with Joe's animatronics a vast improvement over the simian animation of King Kong (1976). While there are one or two moments in the film that might be too intense for small children, it's basically a benign adventure story.