The Recollection of Kevin
The Jungle Book the book is to Disney's The Jungle Book what the 60s TV show Batman is to The Dark Knight. There's no point in saying one is "better" than the other because, despite sharing characters and plot points, the tones and directions are so different that there's barely a point in comparing them at all. But I do enjoy the campy Batman because I've seen The Dark Knight and can be amused by how different it is, and I think it's having read The Jungle Book that makes me amazed at how something with so much fun can me made from something that the word "fun" has no business being anywhere near.
Speaking of comparisons, I'm also reminded of Alice in Wonderland, in which we get a small child spending episodic amounts of time with each of the colorful sets of the inhabitants of a colorful set piece. And like Alice, Mowgli isn't terribly interesting. But luckily the Animals he encounters are more engaging than the Wonderland dwellers, and they each have varying personalities, rather than all of them just being loony. I've noticed how that a character's sadness has a much more meaningful impact when that character is happy and carefree most of the time. That's why Baloo's troubled talk to Mowgli can - well, get to me, anyway.
And the songs! Even if you watch The Jungle Book just as a music video jukebox, it's still worth the trip. Damn you, Sherman Brothers and your ridiculously catchy tunes!
Favorite character: Kaa showcases great animation, great voicework and a song that's entertaining without necessarily getting stuck in your head for the rest of forever.
Least necessary characters: What was the point of the elephants, again?
Overall: It has its highs and lows, but the highs are high enough to make at least one viewing worth it.
-Why do elephants in this picture have heads of hair?! It sort of works with the monkeys and the vultures, but why the elephants? I suppose I should just be thankful all of the animals didn't have mop tops.
-When Baloo dresses as an ape to dance around with King Louie, is Louie interested because [ ] he's a fun-loving guy who likes to dance with others in general or [ ] he thinks Baloo is a female ape? GIMME YOUR INTERPRETATION.
-I could've sworn there used to be a Jungle Book "kids" television show, featuring the animal characters as youngin's. Amanda backed me up on this, but I can't find any info whatsoever online about it, such as what it was even called. Who would like to rise to the challenge of solving this mystery? And no, we're not thinking of TaleSpin.
-My favorite Disney sound effect, "POIT" makes an appearance in this one.
The Song of the Amanda
There's a type of film that I like to call a "Hobbit" film. Did you ever notice that in The Lord of the Rings, Frodo rarely has to do anything or make any decisions for himself except for nearing the very end of the movie/book? Everything is either done for him, decided for him, and sometimes he's even whisked away against his will or without his knowing.
That's what this movie is. Mowgli is just aimlessly having a nothing time doing nothing in particular jungle things and then suddenly vignettes start happening all around him. Now don't get me wrong! The vignettes are generally very entertaining! Each one is accompanied by an upbeat song and dance number with mostly memorable well-acted characters and that's just a darn good time. Not only that, every character that is introduced is extremely well developed such that I can understand the heirarchy of the jungle and imagine their everyday lives (not that I'm at all interested in Jungle Cubs as that was when they were young and hadn't actually developed personalities yet. Yeesh!). At the very end he makes his own decision, but he only got there through the workings of everyone around him.
Fave Character: I liked Khan. He's got so much going for him and so much dignity and a fabulous design. I am so utterly convinced of his power and status.
Least Fave Character: The creepy girl at the end. She was what? 10? Was she trying to be seductive? Gross.
Overall: It's mostly a rollicking good time, but turn it off as soon as you hear "Father's hunting in the forest" unless you want to be thought a pedophile.