the Jungle Book Reviewed
Director Jon Favreau cast a bunch of terrific actors to voice these classic cartoon characters. Bill Murray is quite literally the perfect Baloo, Ben Kingsley is an understated Bagheera, and I hereby nominate Idris Elba to play every sinister character from here to eternity. That voice can send chills up and down your spine. (Also please take note that the late Garry Shandling makes an appearance as a porcupine in his final film appearance). But the movie lives and dies on the only human in the movie and that is played by newcomer Neel Sethi and he gets the job done. I am not usually a fan of child actors and he doesn’t blow me away, but this kid is Mowgli. He’s not plucky or ‘aww gee willikers’ instead he plays the role naturally as a pre-teen should and does a stand up job.
This movie is kid friendly, but parents take note it is not as light and breezy as the original animated movie. Favreau takes a few dark turns, but nothing too severe that most kids can’t handle. During my screening there was a small child crying at one point but he was quickly settled and didn’t make a peep the rest of the movie. So be warned it can be a little scary, but as I was walking out of the theater kids of all ages had smiles across their faces.
This is the best made version of The Jungle Book yet but make no mistake the standard bearer for the story will still be the 1967 version. I would still suggest all kids should revisit the Disney classic; but if you were going to the movies this weekend and your kid has never seen the original you would be okay sharing this one with them first. It stays faithful to the story we all grew up loving but provides updates to keep today’s audience interested and engaged. It was a shocking surprise how well done this movie is and reassures audiences the mouse has not lost his magic touch. B