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The Jungle Book 2

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
The Jungle Book 2

from Film Forum, 02/20/03

Critics are unsure whether to call The Jungle Book 2 a moderate success or a Disney misfire. Some argue that it should have gone straight to video or else been abandoned altogether. In this animated musical adventure, Rudyard Kipling's characters are brought back to life for the Disney Sequel Treatment: "Take what worked the first time and repeat it."

This time, Mowgli is living with human beings in the village, telling stories to a young admirer named Shaunti about his early days growing up in the jungle. The nostalgia kindles within him a desire to return to the wilderness. Thus, he's happy to help his old friend Baloo the Bear "kidnap" him and return him to his first home. In no time at all, the man-eating tiger Shere Khan is back on Mowgli's trail, and the boy is driven to a crisis where he must once again choose where he belongs—with men and women or with these singing, dancing beasts.

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) calls it "a fun-filled sequel to Disney's 1967 animated classic. Director Steve Trenbirth seamlessly weaves cutting-edge, computer-imaging techniques with traditional animation to create a delightful tale of friendship and family. While the new film lacks the originality and enduring appeal of its precursor, it nevertheless fits the bill of quality family entertainment."

Movieguide's unnamed critic says, "Jungle Book 2 has plenty of colorful animation, fun song-and-dance numbers and a heartwarming ending. The story is a moral one, with good family values."

Other critics point out that the story may have positive themes, but it is not up to par for Disney's usually superior animation. Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) says, "The level of artistry does not match the original film nor other feature length animated films released theatrically this past year. Frankly, it has the look and feel of a direct-to-video release." But he adds, "It doesn't matter. Kids will still enjoy it."

Steven D. Greydanus (Decent Films) perceives more problems with this embellishment of Kipling's classic: "Jungle Book 2 is content to retell the same story about the same characters, throwing in a few new songs no one will remember the next day, and erasing the poignancy of the original ending by trying to have its cake and eat it too. Mowgli himself doesn't seem to know what he wants out of life any more. The climax in the original film had something of the feel of a rite of passage, with Mowgli taking his birthright as a man by using fire against Shere Khan. There's nothing so significant about the climactic showdown this time around."

Holly McClure (Crosswalk) has no complaints, and calls it "a delightful treat."