‘The Jungle Book’ Mowgli (Neel Sethi) Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Those who were anxious about this remake can forget about their worries (and their strife).
“Now I’m the king of the swingers-oh, the jungle VIP; I reached the top and had to stop and that’s what’s botherin’ me!”
For a total of fourteen hours last week I listened to Disney tunes nonstop on road trips from Phoenix to Disneyland and back. Whenever “I Wan’na Be Like You” came on, I just had to sing along (much to the chagrin of my husband, in-laws and kids, I’m sure). It’s not only one of my favorite songs from Disney’s 1967 animated classic The Jungle Book, it’s one of my favorite Disney songs overall. Needless to say, despite the fact that I was worried when I heard about plans for a remake, I still hoped Iron Man director Jon Favreau would find a way to incorporate The Jungle Book’s songs into this year’s live-action version of the film.
I’m usually anti-remake in general, but when it’s a film that I absolutely loved in my childhood that’s being given the treatment, I’m especially antsy. My fears seemed to be confirmed in the first few minutes Favreau’s film, as it begins with jittery close-ups of young “man-cub” Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi, who’s neither a standout nor annoying like most child actors) running and jumping across tree branches in the jungle. I thought I was going to be sick. Thankfully there were only a few other sequences like that in the rest of the movie, which I’m thrilled to report is excellent. Favreau and his team created a lush, beautiful world for Mowgli and his friends—it’s truly the kind of film that you need to see to believe.
You know the story: Mowgli is left in the jungle as a baby, found by the panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) and raised by wolves until the intimidating tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) learns of his existence and wants revenge for being burned and scarred by man’s “red flower” (fire) years ago. As long as Mowgli remains in the jungle, no one is safe from Shere Khan’s wrath, and so takes Bagheera takes it upon himself to accompany Mowgli on his return to the man village. It’s a coming-of-age story, as well as a tale of bravery and friendship. Read more…