What the Hell Were They Thinking?!

Tarzan think Tarzan movie monkey shit. Bo Derek, John Phillip Law, Miles O’Keeffe and Academy Award nominee Richard Harris star in Tarzan, the Ape Man.

Tarzan the Ape ManCast of Characters:
Jane Parker – Bo Derek
James Parker – Richard Harris
Harry Holt – John Phillip Law
Tarzan – Miles O’Keeffe

Director – John Derek
Screenplay – Tom Rowe & Gary Goddard
Based on the novel Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Producer – Bo Derek
Rated R

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James Parker (Richard Harris) is a hunter searching for the mystical “white ape” in Africa, hoping to kidnap and bring it back to England dead or alive as the Bon prophets of Jovi once foretold. Joined by his estranged daughter Jane (Bo Derek), following the death of her mother, and his assistant Harry Holt (John Philip Law), Parker discovers the white ape, but comes to find he is Tarzan (Miles O’Keeffe), an uncivilized man who has been raised by apes.

Realizing he is being hunted by Parker, Tarzan kidnaps the busty and prone to fits of going fully nude Jane. But believe it or not, no harm is done as it is love at first sight between the two. And after being surrounded by tick-infested, gibberish-screaming, shit-slinging monkeys for all those years, it truly is a shocker that his pecker would pop up like a baseball bat upon finally coming into contact with a shapely, luscious, albeit very dimwitted, blonde.

With his slut of a daughter being held hostage by this horny savage, Parker sets out to rescue her before this ape man steals her virginity.

Which she’ll eventually just give away like a bargain bin deal in Bolero anyway.

Remember 2014’s Godzilla? Remember how the title kinda implied that we might – I don’t know – get to see Godzilla in all its glory? Well, what happened? “Godzirra” got shoved to the back seat in place of a more wooden than Pinocchio Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Likewise, over three decades before Godzilla, Tarzan got demoted to an extended cameo appearance in his own film, a film that’s called TARZAN, THE APE MAN.

Yes, Tarzan, in a film about Tarzan and called Tarzan, takes a backseat to the film’s true star, Jane Parker. This film shouldn’t have been called Tarzan, the Ape Man. It should’ve been called Jane, the Full Frontal Huss – I Mean Virgin.

I mean, imagine a Superman film that focuses exclusively on Lois Lane or a Rocky picture told entirely from Adrian’s perspective.

Following their “Eww! That’s incest – oh wait, never mind, they’re not related… Fuck it, it’s still disgusting.” love story Fantasies, John and Bo felt determined and ready to bring to life on the big screen Edgar Rice Burroughs’s iconic adventure series Tarzan. First came 10. The Derek’s figured they’d piggyback onto a much better director like Blake Edwards to help launch their career. Then came the aforementioned Fantasies, their first feature film together, which should’ve been more than enough of a clue to the entire world of what the Derek’s stamp on the filmmaking scene was going to be.

Fool us once, then again (Tarzan, the Ape Man), then again (Bolero) and then again (Ghosts Can’t Do It) – well, then we just must be that stupid.

After convincing to the whole world that they couldn’t even set up a decent shot, let put together a decent stab at an entire feature film, John and Bo took the only reasonable next step they should take. Falling back on their day jobs? Hell, no. Putting together a riveting epic adventure that could easily rival the year’s other top adventure film, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Holy shit, I’ve slung around some liberal uses of the English language before, but I think I just topped them all there. Though, in fairness to this film, it did make $36 million on a $6 million budget, thereby making the Dereks box office champions and in turn subjecting us to two more films. But the moviegoers did plop down their hard earned dollars at the theaters for this film so it’s not like they’ve earned the right to complain. They and the Dereks clearly deserve each other.

You gotta hand it to Bo. She and fellow three-peat champion John, aka the Shaq and Kobe of “What the Hell Were They Thinking?!”, are just the gift that keeps on giving for this site. I could go on and waste my time trying to critique aspects of this film such as story and acting, but why bother? Tarzan, the Ape Man is just like every other Bo and John Derek collaboration – an ineptly made excuse to whip out Bo’s rib cushions as many times as possible, even during the end credits where she can be seen lying in the buff on the beach while she and Tarzan play with his monkey.

I know what you’re thinking. No, it’s an actual monkey, but, still, the symbolism is striking.

So what about the conflict between the civilized and savage man? That after all is the core of Burroughs’s story. Well, forget about all that (unless you accidentally slipped into the player 1984’s Greystoke instead of this film). This Tarzan has no backstory, no motive, no reason to even be in this damn film other than to squeeze Bo’s titties. It’s the easiest money Miles O’Keeffe must’ve made in his entire acting career. As was already mentioned, Tarzan is nothing more than an inconsequential footnote in his own story. There’s only one conflict and that’s to take off Jane’s clothes or not to take off Jane’s clothes.

Hamlet suddenly just got so much hotter.

Of course, what else is Bo gonna do, act? Please! Even a hammy Richard Harris, the only legit actor in this film (preceding Derek’s other two talent wastes, Oscar winners George Kennedy and Anthony Quinn), can’t escape this atrocity alive. Just wait ’til Miss Parker confesses she’s a virgin deep-throating a banana or admits to Tarzan that she’s “never touched a man before”. That sheepish shit-eating grin of hers is there ’cause even she knows she can’t spout out bull shit like that with a straight face.

Worst of all, Tarzan, the Ape Man is utter incompetence from a technical standpoint. Derek, who also served as the film’s cinematographer, sets up shots that either obscure actors while they deliver their lines, and for whatever reason, I don’t know, must’ve given the lighting gaffers the day off during the night scenes where the cast is barely visible.

It should be noted, however, that for every scene where Bo strips down, Derek makes sure the scenes look clear as day.

Priorities, readers… Priorities.

Then there’s the action, which you expect for a Tarzan film. Only this isn’t a Tarzan movie; it’s a Jane Parker movie. Every action scene moves in slow-motion, as if they were all choreographed by a stunt crew of heroin addicts. Tarzan swinging on the vines while his obviously dubbed-in iconic yell echoes in the background? Slow-motion. Tarzan wrestling a snake? Slow-motion. Tarzan fighting the Ivory King? Slow-motion. It takes massive incompetence to make Bolero and Ghosts Can’t Do It seem marginally competent, but Derek rises to the challenge.

Not that Bolero and Ghosts Can’t Do It are marginally competent or anything. Far from it. It’s just that this film sucks that much.

Tarzan, the Ape Man is more of the same from the Derek duo – a poorly acted, horribly scripted, incompetently directed, tonally two-faced, semi-pornographic crap-bomb. All the complex societal themes that have made Tarzan an enduring tale have been completely abandoned in place of what John Derek does best, or I should say the only thing he knows how to do well, and that’s getting Bo naked. So, in a nutshell, fans of the Tarzan legend looking for a legitimate attempt at the literary classic will find themselves sorely disappointed. However, fans of seeing as many shots of Bo Derek’s ass, tits and pussycat as there are stars in the sky will be elated to know that this film surely delivers for them.

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