THE JUNGLE BOOK (2016)
An Instant Family Classic
Starring: Neel Sethi and the voices of
Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley,
Lupita Nyong’o, Idris Elba,
Christopher Walker, Giancarlo
Esposito, Garry Shandling,
Genre: Action Adventure/Fantasy
Audience: Older children and adults
Runtime: 105 minutes
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures/The Walt
Director: Jon Favreau
Executive Producer: Peter Tobyansen, Molly Allebn,
Producer: Jon Favreau, Brigham Taylor
Writer: Justin Marks
Address Comments To:Robert Iger, President/CEO, The Walt Disney Company (Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar, Marvel Studios, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures)
Alan Horn, Chairman, Walt Disney Studios
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Phone: (818) 560-1000; Website: www.disney.com
JUNGLE BOOK opens with the little “man cub,” Mowgli, running through the forest with his wolf brothers while their friend, Bagheera the black panther, chases them. Bagheera is trying to teach Mowgli how to run from danger like the wolves, but Mowgli fails the test. Bagheera urges Mowgli to take the exercise more seriously, but Mowgli is still just a carefree little boy, because humans grow at a slower rate than animals.
Back at the wolf pack’s home, Mowgli’s adopted wolf “mother,” Raksha, and the leader of the pack, Akela, teach Mowgli and the cubs about the “law of the jungle.” Violating the law brings death, they tell them, but, in the moral code of the wolf pack, the pack has a duty to each wolf, and each wolf has a duty to the pack. With this symbiotic relationship, everyone is safe, and so is the wolf pack.
As the rainy season ends and the new dry season begins, a drought occurs in the jungle. The drought exposes a huge rock in the middle of the watering hole. So, the jungle animals declare a truce so that everyone can come to the watering hole together, without fear of being eaten. While they’re doing this, the tiger Shere Khan suddenly returns. When he sees that the wolves are taking care of Mowgli, a man cub, Shere Khan gets angry. The man cub will endanger us all, Shere Khan declares. He demands the wolf pack turn Mowgli over to him so he can kill him. The pack refuses. Since the truce is still in effect, Shere Khan tells them he will return when the rainy season begins again. They better turn Mowgli over to him then, he warns, or else.
When the rainy season begins, Bagheera and the wolf pack decide Mowgli must leave the jungle and return to the nearby man village. Mowgli reluctantly leaves with Bagheera, but Shere Khan follows them. Bagheera and a water buffalo stampede save Mowgli from Shere Khan’s grasp, but it’s only a matter of time before the evil tiger finds Mowgli again. When he does, will Mowgli survive?
Director Jon Favreau (IRON MAN, IRON MAN 2 and ELF) has directed an instant family classic in this version of THE JUNGLE BOOK. The movie is a cinematic delight, with lots of exciting action, a superb script, excellent performances, funny subplots, and wonderful, eye-popping visuals and special effects. The movie combines the more serious aspects of the original JUNGLE BOOK stories by Nobel Prize-winning author Rudyard Kipling with some of the humor and two of the memorable songs from the 1967 animated classic by Disney. Thus, amid all the excitement and drama of Mowgli’s story, moviegoers will also hear Bill Murray as Baloo the Bear sing the joyous ditty “Bare Necessities” from the cartoon and Christopher Walken as King Louie the Gigantopithecus sing the ironic, winsome lyrics to “I Wanna Be Like You.” Last but not least, the young boy who plays Mowgli, Neel Sethi, is perfect. He carries this movie on his small shoulders in a compelling way that’s impressive. His interaction with the animals, the sets and the CG special effects is virtually seamless.
THE JUNGLE BOOK is a family movie in many ways. Mowgli’s adoptive animal parents show true love and caring for him and his safety. They look past the dangers that his humanity can bring to them to see the lovable boy underneath. Thus, Bagheera the panther, Baloo the bear and the wolves become the loving, caring family Mowgli lost.
In addition, the animals teach Mowgli the “law of the jungle.” Obeying the law brings life and prosperity, but disobeying it brings death and danger. Part of that law is the moral code of the wolf pack. Essentially, the pack serves each wolf, but the wolf also serves the pack. These teachings echo biblical law and its system of mutual rights and obligations. Rights without obligations are lawless, but obligations without any rights are legalistic and tyrannical. This is a great, positive message that’s still highly relevant even today. It’s taken directly from a poem Rudyard Kipling wrote for the original JUNGLE BOOK stories.
THE JUNGLE BOOK has no foul language and no lewd or crude elements. However, there’s some intense and not-so-intense action and some scary and not-so-scary fight scenes, so caution is advised for younger children.
THE JUNGLE BOOK is beautifully and wonderfully made. The script and performances are superb, and the visuals are stunning. The movie keeps the delightful humor and two of the songs from the 1967 classic. THE JUNGLE BOOK stresses family values and looking out for one another. It’s an instant family classic, but some intense action scenes involving menacing animals warrant caution for younger children.