|>If the Disney Company was ever an entity at all concerned with something other than money, The Jungle Book 2 certainly does not reflect it. The banality of this picture is exemplified when the beloved characters from the original 1960's Jungle Book break out into the song, "The Bear Necessities" for the third or so time in a seventy-five minute film. Not only are the newly composed songs for this film not of the usual Disney caliber, but they seem to have been unable to create a vibrant new soundtrack as well. The songs are actually childish and annoying most of the time, even when they are a reprise from the original (how many times can one hear The Bear Necessities?).|
Disney has historically found much success in the promotion of its soundtracks, but the songs in this film aren't the type you'd like to hear repeatedly on your stereo. With last year's successful sequel to Peter Pan becoming a success on the big screen after it had initially been intended for a direct to video release, the Mouse House seems to have thought this film up to the task as well.
In fact, this film was produced in the television animation department of the company. Which isn't to say that the film is substandard, but the animation certainly won't blow anyone's socks off. Like a production hurried from the drawing table to the screen, Jungle Book 2 doesn't have the spit and polish that a feature film should have. If anything, it looks like something that would look good on a television.
And this film will certainly not charm audiences with its lackluster humor and indefinable plot. When ape child "Mowgli," voiced by Haley Joel Osment, yearns to go back to the jungle, and hooks back up with his old pal "Baloo," voiced by John Goodman, one would think that an interesting plot might follow, but in taking the same route as the last film (Shere Khan is after them and they have to get away), this film begins to look more like a remake than a sequel with every frame that passes. After all, forty years have passed since the original was released to theaters and that film was made in a different time and for a different generation of children. Obviously children forty years ago had higher standards.
Though strangely enough, the first film is entertaining for more than just children. But the sequel won't have anybody over the age of ten in awe for very long. But barring further comparisons to the original, this second film is a much different breed of animation, with a different style of drawing at work, and a different type of music in play. The animators of this film probably shouldn't be blamed, as they started work on this film intending it to be seen on the small screen. And since Disney animators are some of the lowest paid in the animation industry, perhaps it is the executives who should be blamed.
With The Jungle Book 2, the Disney company has proven once again that it is hell-bent on taking every animated feature from Walt's legacy and twisting it up for the "MTV" generation. With the exception of last year's Peter Pan 2, there has never been a sequel to a Disney animated film that has been better or even approached the critical success of its forbearer. This film will probably entertain small children when put into the VCR or DVD player, but why it was released theatrically is anybody's guess. (It must have something to do with the bottom line)
While it may make Buena Vista some additional money before going to video, it will surely be a tortuous experience for parents and adults. The folks at Disney must know that cartoons can easily appeal to adults (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, anyone?), so why they would make a film that so easily alienates a large portion of the audience and then force it on the movie-going public (a good chunk of which is above the age of ten) is quite a mystery. My recommendation: skip it unless you have very small children. (And then wait until the video release to sit through it)
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.