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The Jungle Book 2
Reviewed by Jason Myers, © 2003

Format: Movie
By:   Steve Trenbirth (Director)
Genre:   Fantasy/Animation
Released:   June 10, 2003 (DVD Release)
Review Date:   June 12, 2003
Audience Rating:   G
RevSF Rating:   3/10 (What Is This?)
Like Return to Never Land, The Jungle Book 2 appears to have started out as one of Disney's endless direct-to-video cash-ins, and somehow been promoted to theater release. But The Jungle Book 2 has even less of substance to offer than Return to Never Land.

What do you remember most about The Jungle Book? Chances are it's the music. Baloo singing "The Bear Necessities" and King Louis, the king of the swingers, the jungle V.I.P., singing "I Wanna Be Like You." Phil Harris (Baloo) and Louis Prima (King Louis) brought a cool-cat grit to their characters, singing two of the catchiest toon tunes ever.

As King Louis (or Duke Ellington or Tarzan or teenage dance-hall junkies in Nazi Germany) might say, "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing." And The Jungle Book 2 ain't got it. Musically, the best thing The Jungle Book 2 has to offer is several reprises of "The Bear Necessities." John Goodman is an admirable pinch-hitter for Phil Harris, but there's not much for him to do except remind us that Baloo is a one-hit wonder, and headline a "big number" (with choreography stolen from The Lion King) called "W-I-L-D" that, along with Mowgli's "Jungle Rhythm", is, like, dullsville, man.

There were a few moments (brief shining moments) when I really got into The Jungle Book 2, namely at the reintroduction of the old villains Shere Khan the tiger and Kaa the snake (Kaa in particular since Jim Cummings' Kaa is dead on). The one good thing in The Jungle Book 2 that you can't get (and get better) from the original Jungle Book is Phil Collins' punny turn as Lucky the vulture.

Lucky: Ask me if I could whip that tiger. Go on, ask me.
Buzzie: Can you whip that tiger?
Lucky: I "Shere Khan"

So saying, Phil Collins partly makes up for his role in the continuing de-evolution of Disney movie music into soft (flabby) rock.

They should have cut out the diaper-wearing Ranjan to make more room for Lucky and Kaa. But even that wouldn't have made The Jungle Book 2 a page-turner. In spite of star voice actors (Haley Joel Osment and John "Bad Date" Rhys-Davies), the human characters are lifeless. Plus, Bagheera the panther is practically a non-presense.

DVDetails

The extras here aren't too bad. About the maximum a movie as light-weight as The Jungle Book 2 can support. "The Legacy of the Jungle Book" covers some behind-the-scenes bases. Highlight: seeing voice-actor Jim Cummings offer his take on Kaa. Lowlight: listening to one person talk about how "W-I-L-D" is as good or better than "I Wanna Be Like You" from the original. Neither here nor there: Why does the film crew seem to be made up primarily of Australians?

Also, two deleted scenes, a recap of the original movie, and various ways (including sing-along) to relive all the great musical moments from The Jungle Book 2. Well, there aren't any great musical moments, although Smashmouth's closing credits version of "I Wanna Be Like You" is kinda fun.

One last thing: If I'm going to take time to go through "Mowgli's Jungle Ruins Maze", there better be some bonus material waiting for me at the other end.

The Movie Itself: 3 out of 10
The DVD Features: 4 out of 10
Film/DVD Editor Jason Myers finds it highly disturbing that Kaa the Snake sounds exactly like Winnie the Pooh.

 
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