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The Jungle Book 40th Anniversary Edition
Reviewed by Peggy Hailey, © 2007

Format: Movie
By:   Walt Disney and Wolfgang Reitherman
Genre:   Classics
Released:   October 2007
Review Date:   October 12, 2007
RevSF Rating:   10/10 (What Is This?)

I have to make a confession. It's actually embarassing how much I love this movie. I don't remember the first time I saw it -- my first Jungle Book memory is a Disney Story Album (Yes, I'm from the Land Before CDs. Shut up.). It was narrated by Sebastian Cabot, who told an abridged version of the movie, complete with the original songs and incidental music. I listened to it obsessively, absolutely in love with the funny story and the swinging soundtrack. In fact, The Jungle Book is responsible for my best movie memory ever (buy me a beer sometime and I'll tell you all about it), so I was pre-programmed to like this reissue, even if it had been a bare-bones affair. Luckily, the good folks at Disney went all out, and this stunning 2 disc-set is well worth the price.

Disc 1 contains the movie, audio commentary by Richard Sherman, Bruce Reitherman (Mowgli) and animator Andreas Deja,a deleted scene, a Jonas Brothers music video for "I Wanna Be Like You," a place where you can cut directly to the songs, and the deleted songs written for the original version of the movie, later discarded by Disney as too dark.

Both the picture and the sound have been restored, and the film looks and sounds great. The commentary gives fascinating insight into the process of animation movie-making and even adds in archival commentary from the director and original animators.

The extra material is a treasure trove with a fully-voiced deleted scene featuring Rocky the Rhino (voiced by Frank Fontaine) and a very Beatles-esque version of "That's What Friends Are For" by the very Beatles-esque vultures (Walt had the song changed to its current form so it wouldn't sound dated. Good move, Walt.). Most of the musical stuff is geared more towards kids, with the exception of the songs written by Terry Gilkyson for the original version of the movie. These songs are interesting historically, but should probably have been moved to disc 2 with the rest of the historical material and documentaries.

Disc 2 is divided into 2 sections: The Man Village, containing documentaries, interviews, and art galleries, and Jungle Fun, containing games and a short informational documentary about the actual Indian jungle targeted to a younger audience.

The archival material gathered to put these histories together is fantastic. You'll come away feeling like you've actually talked to these guys, and that's just magic. You'll also get insights from modern filmmakers like Brad Bird, and, in my favorite section, modern animators talking about how The Jungle Book influenced them.

A fully-restored classic movie, excellent commentary, and extras to please adults and kids alike; the rating on this one's easy: movie -- 10, extras -- 10.

Peggy memorized the four vultures routine, complete with accent, at age 10. There is a cassette tape with evidence to prove this. You will never find it.

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