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Mighty Joe Young (1998)

PG  |   |  Action, Adventure, Family  |  25 December 1998 (USA)
5.5
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Ratings: 5.5/10 from 21,672 users  
Reviews: 88 user | 34 critic

A legendary fifteen-foot tall mountain gorilla named Joe is taken to an animal sanctuary in California by a zoologist and a young woman whom he grew up with. A poacher from the past returns to seek vengeance on him.

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Title: Mighty Joe Young (1998)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Garth
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Harry Ruben
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Kweli
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Pindi
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Dr. Baker
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Dr. Ruth Young
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Young Jill Young
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Vern
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Jack
Cory Buck ...
Jason
Liz Georges ...
Jason's Mother
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Storyline

The baby gorilla left in her care grows up to become a hugely tall and broad specimen by the name of Joe, living in the mountains as a mostly unseen legend among people who live there. Along comes an eco-minded emissary from a California sanctuary, who talks the jungle girl into providing safe haven for Joe at the L.A. facility. The transition is not without discomfort, but everything is aggravated via a conspiracy of poachers to get Joe into their own greedy hands! Written by Anthony Pereyra <hypersonic91@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Survival is an instinct.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some menacing action violence and mild language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

25 December 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Store Joe Young  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$90,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$10,602,042 (USA) (25 December 1998)

Gross:

£4,307,343 (UK) (18 June 1999)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Like most films during the 1990's that features creature effects, Joe was created through the mixture of practical and digital effects. For the majority of the film, Joe was portrayed by creature suit performer ('John Alexander') who wore a radio-controlled animatronic gorilla suit created by special makeup effects artist (Rick Baker) and his crew at Cinovation Studios. In order to achieve those scenes, Alexander would often act on miniature sets that were surrounded by blue screen in which visual effects house DreamQuest Images would composite him into footage that was shot before. While in the beginning of the film when Joe was an infant he was performed by (Verne Troyer). For certain scenes, the filmmakers used three full-sized animatronics (one in quadraped, one sitting down, and one in a dead position) also created by Baker's crew. For the scenes where the digital Joe was used, visual effects houses DreamQuest Images and Industrial, Light, & Magic would work on different scenes using the same model provided by Baker. Many of these performances were achieved by key-frame animation, but when the digital Joe was running and jumping was motion capture data that they captured from an infant chimpanzee. See more »

Goofs

In Gregg's first appearance he refers briefly to a map, then orients himself with a magnetic compass, while resting the same arm on the steel hood of his Humvee. See more »

Quotes

Andrei Strasser: [points a gun at Jill's face with intent to kill her] Goodbye, Jill. Meet your mother... in Hell.
Jill Young: [stares back at him very calmly, even a slight hint of a smile on her face] Goodbye.
[Strasser turns around and sees Joe towering over him]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Charlize Theron/The Black Keys (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Imam Assani Cisse
Written and Performed by Chuck Jonkey
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User Reviews

May be clichéd and unlikely but that's not to say it's not entertaining and the effects are good
3 November 2002 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

A group of poachers kill a large gorilla and a female zoologist. The gorilla's baby escapes with the woman's orphaned baby and the two grow up together. Tears later the gorilla (Joe) and the girl (Jill) have grown up – Joe himself is abnormally large but is the target of poachers. Zoologist Gregg O'Hara stumbles upon the two on a wildlife visit to the jungle and convinces Jill to bring Joe to a sanctuary in California. However, despite the safety, the threat to Joe has not vanished.

I ignored this on video and at the cinema but on TV I gave it a go for the same of the kids. The first thing that strikes you is how much of a rip-off of every monster movie you've ever seen – from King Kong onwards. All the clichés are there and the characters are little more than cardboard cut outs at times. However it is still good fun and all delivered with energy that will keep the kids happy. The film may not go anywhere that you don't expect but it has funny moments and also moments that are quite tense and exciting.

Of the cast Joe stands out. His facial expression, depth of understanding and emotional range may be a little unlikely but he looks good. The effects may occasionally show the joins where Joe interacts with physical objects but for the vast majority he is impressive – for the most part I forgot it was effects and totally bought into him being real, that's a sign of good effects. Paxton maybe takes it all a bit seriously but does well, Theron is a bit too street smart for a girl who grew up with a gorilla but she passes. Support like King and Paymer are underused and simply become more examples of `good Americans'. If you're being cynical you could say that the two leads are WASP heroes and that King (black) and Paymer (Jewish) were there to cover bases! This view is a little supported however by the hackneyed casting of white South African and Eastern European types as the bad guys – their roles are caricatures at best and the actors look embarrassed at times.

Overall it's enjoyable. It's not great – the plot is flawed, the acting is so-so, it borrows from every big ape movie that has gone before and it'll never be remembered years from now as a great film. But it's good for kids without boring adults. The effects are good and, though you'll forget it quickly, it's fun while it's on.


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