Starring: Haley Joel Osment, John Goodman, Mae Whitman
Director: Steve Trenbirth
Running Time: 72 mins
The Jungle Book 2 is an American film and the sequel to The Jungle Book. Now living in the man village, Mowgli misses his friends back in the jungle, so decides to run away, but faces the same dangers of the wild.
I absolutely adore The Jungle Book. It’s one of Disney’s best animations, if not their very best. But its belated sequel, released 36 years after the original just doesn’t cut the mustard in comparison. Though perfectly pleasant for the youngest viewers, it’s a film lacking in the charisma and emotion of its unforgettable predecessor.
One of the things that’s strangest and most frustrating about The Jungle Book 2 is the way in which it tries so desperately to mimic and revive the swinging sixties style of the original film. The sequel features the return of Beatles-like vultures and a lot of groovy dialogue, but it all feels rather disingenuous and out of place.
Apart from the fact that, over 30 years after the end of the ’60s, it seems ridiculous to try so hard to recapture that original style, particularly given that this film was aimed at kids brought up in the 2000s. The original film, having been made in the 1960s, was organic in its use of cultural references of the day, rather than ham-fisting them in just to seem cool.
So, while The Jungle Book 2 does try to recapture and pay homage to its predecessor in that regard, it just comes across as inorganic and frankly jarring. Saying that, however, John Goodman gives a likable performance as the ever-lovable Baloo, and he gives his all at bringing a bit of that smooth ’60s style back into the mix.
Another area where The Jungle Book 2 really pales in comparison to its predecessor is the music. Apart from a welcome rendition of The Bare Necessities, the songs here are caught in that awkward middle ground between the ’60s style of the original film and a more modern kind of Disney music in the vein of The Lion King.
Simply put, the movie doesn’t know quite what to do with its two legacies, that of the original film, and that of the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s, where big, theatrical animations took centre stage. As a result, The Jungle Book 2 is a bit of a messy combination of both, never fully or convincingly reviving the ’60s style of the original, but paling in comparison to Disney’s best films of the ’90s.
Having said all this, though, this film is perfectly fine for young kids. I remember seeing this as a young kid and I didn’t think it was amazing, but I had fun with it. It’s bright, light-hearted and short, and sometimes that’s all that you need to entertain kids, even if the film isn’t an all-time classic.
In short, The Jungle Book 2 doesn’t hold a candle to its legendary predecessor. Though harmless and perfectly fine for the youngest viewers, it lacks the style and charisma of the original despite its best efforts to recapture just that. Messy and never anywhere near as groovy, The Jungle Book 2 is a real mixed bag, which is why I’m giving it a 6.0 overall.