A movie remake can go smashingly well or horribly wrong. I don’t like to name names but Kevin Costner’s version of Robin Hood might just be the best example of the latter.
In more recent years, Disney, however, has gotten it right. With recent live adaptations of classic fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty reinvented as Maleficent and Cinderella reimagined with a more in-depth backstory, audiences have flocked to hear new versions of stories they loved both as a child and adult. That might make you think that audiences need something new and something fresh to stay interested in a story they already know.
Disney’s new live action film, The Jungle Book, proves that wrong. Although the original animated version debuted in 1967, it was a Disney staple of my 1970s childhood. Our Disney record albums included songs like “Bare Necessities” and I even used Mowgli as one of my computer passwords for years. In fact, I was so nostalgic for the original Jungle Book that I convinced the Easter Bunny to plop a DVD of the movie in my son’s Easter basket.
After recently watching it, I could see how and why it was time for an update. Definitely sanguine and definitely rated G, the animated version seemed perfect for the under 7 set. My 9 year old enjoyed it but the movie itself felt a little one dimensional and most of all, he was disappointed with the ending. (How could Mowgli leave his jungle friends for a mere GIRL?)
An update is certainly what the latest version of The Jungle Book provides but in all the right ways. If you’re worried about the story deviated too far from the original, DON’T. The movie stays very true to the original Disney adaptation, complete with characters, songs, and personalities. But even if you weren’t interested in comparing it to the original, it has a lot of merit on its own.
What I Loved About The Jungle Book
Neel Sethi is by far my favorite part of the movie. He’s the young boy cast as Mowgli, selected from thousands of candidates following a worldwide search for the perfect man-cub. Adorable, engaging, and absolutely perfect. And, oh, that hair! Neel, now 12, may have a big career ahead of himself!
Bill Murray as Baloo definitely comes in a close second for me. I’ve made no secret of my love of Bill Murray but I sometimes worry the “star personality” will overshadow the character instead of compliment it. In this case, it was definitely the latter. He was laugh-out-loud funny but still felt like good ol’ Baloo.
In fact, I felt like the casting of the animal voices overall was done in a way that stayed true to characters and not just for box office appeal. Ben Kingsley as the wise and protective Bagheera, Scarlett Johansson as the hypnotizingly sneaky Kaa, Christopher Walken as the enigmatic and erratic King Louie. They all brought the story to life.
What You Should Know About The Jungle Book
You want an action movie? YOU GOT AN ACTION MOVIE! I’m not even kidding when I say I jumped out of my seat at least three times. I may have even screamed a little. It’s startling and a little frightening at times (it’s definitely rated PG – some animal sequences might be a little scary for younger kids).
For that reason, it might be worth it (and hear me out) to see this film in IMAX 3D. Understand that we never choose 3D because we just don’t prefer it. But this film was beautifully created and created clearly with 3D engrained in the story. I’m actually glad we saw it in IMAX 3D.
And finally, no real spoilers here, the ending is different. That’s all I’ll say because you really want to see if for yourself, don’t you? I like this ending better. I like this version better. I like everything about this movie.
Go see this film with the entire family! Bring dad even though he doesn’t like “kid movies.” Bring your teenagers even though they’re “too old” for this. Bring everyone and enjoy a completely engrossing, entertaining, and enjoyable film.