I am the type of person who can’t even think about Marley & Me without having a panic attack about the fate of my own dog. That Budweiser commercial with the horse LITERALLY makes me cry every single time I see it (I watched it again for the purpose of this post and I just cannot), and I had an hour-long meltdown when I read Animal Farm in high school and got to the part where they turn Boxer into glue. Suffice it to say, animal stories GET to me. So it’s a good thing I saw The Jungle Book on Sunday.
Director Jon Favreau put this weird message right before the movie started that led me to believe he changed A LOT from the original animated film, but I really don’t think he did? It opens with Mowgli running super-fast with the wolves and Bagheera scolding him for acting like a silly little boy, and then we find out that a drought has driven all animals in the jungle to Peace Rock where they can all drink the same water and not hunt/eat each other because water is more important than food in the jungle. (Is that true? Can we ask the animals?) It’s here at Peace Rock that scary-a$s Shere Kahn shows up and is pissed AF that Mowgli the Man Cub is running around the jungle with the animals because he doesn’t belong and man created fire and fire hurt his mean-a$s tiger face and blah blah blah. Put a lid on it, you cranky old cat!
Turns out Bagheera and the wolves have also been thinking Mowgli should move on up to the east side, or the Man Village, because the jungle is getting to be too dangerous for him, so Bagheera sets out to escort him there. They almost immediately stumble upon Shere Kahn again, who then goes back to the wolves and does something HORRIBLE to prove his point that he wants Mowgli dead and he wants to be the one to do it and until then he is going to rule over the wolves and possibly eat them if they annoy him too much (kind of like Scar in The Lion King). This all happens unbeknownst to Mowgli, who has continued on deeper into the jungle and runs into everyone’s favorite character, Baloo the bear. Mowgli helps Baloo get honey, and when Bagheera finally finds him again he is quite annoyed at Baloo’s general existence and the fact that he conned Mowgli into working for him. While they’re arguing about that, the evil monkeys kidnap Mowgli and bring him to that ancient temple thing (Incan? Aztec? It’s unclear.) where big-a$s King Louie (brilliantly voiced by Christopher Walken) resides and wants something from Mowgli.
After a wild escape scene Mowgli finds out what happened to his wolf family and hightails it (see what I did there?) back into the jungle to end this nonsense with the tiger once and for all. We all know how these Disney movies end, particularly the ones we’ve already seen in other formats, so I’ll just leave it at that. This new version is obviously a lot more violent than the original animated film, but it’s really pretty enjoyable. The set and all the CGI are super-cool, but I’m grateful that the animals didn’t look TOO lifelike, otherwise I would have been quite distraught by the end.