The Jungle Book

I hate being right.

Haha, okay, no I don’t. I love it. I knew I’d hate this movie, I avoided it like I feared it might give me Zika, and when I finally did break down and watch (because it was the fare being offered on the first night of drive-in season), I hated it even more than I’d anticipated. That uptick is maybe partially your The-Jungle-book5fault. It’s received some fairly positive reviews so I had hope that it wasn’t as bad as my gut was telling me. But now I know the truth: either the movie-going public are idiots, or they talk up a bad movie in order to trick others into paying to see it too, thus assuaging their guilt and annoyance at having sat through it themselves.

Self-righteous, much? Yes, I enjoy being that too. But I truly did loathe this movie. I had little to no interest in seeing this movie and was relieved when Matt said he’d cover it for us (being a boy scout, he felt he had some personal connection to the material). But guess what? Matt never saw it, the chump, and he’s left it to me to attack people’s childhoods. I can only assume that’s what it’s about. I don’t have any warm fuzzy feelings attached to the 1967 animated version of this one. I could have hummed some of the bars of the more popular songs, but couldn’t have told you the plot. But the minute  I heard it was live-action, I was out. Forget it. Realistic-looking animals that still for some reason talk? I couldn’t fathom how this would be done well.

Neither could Jon Favreau, as it turns out. And the thing about realistic-lookingThe-Jungle-Book-Special-Shoot_SHERE-KHAN_max-620x600 animals is that they’re still cartoons. They’re very accurate, very expensive cartoons, but it’s just some fancy animation that makes it harder for me to anthropomorphize but doesn’t stop them from breaking out into song. The tiger is so menacing looking you can practically smell the rotting meat caught between his yellowed 3-inch teeth, yet he has the velvety smooth voice of Idris Elba. Bill Murray was a nice choice for the more playful Baloo, but let’s remember that Baloo is still a bear. A sloth bear, sure, but a bear’s a bear. Sloth bears are usually known to be docile for a bear, but they’ll still attack humans who encroach upon their living space, and Mowgli doesn’t just encroach, he fucking rides him! And thejunglebook56b918f52fcee+%25281%2529then there’s King Louie, the big-ass scary mother fucking ape. Modeled after Apocalypse Now’s Colonel Kurtz, King Louie is a gigantopithecus, an ancestor of the orangutan, who in real life would have been about 10 feet tall and over 1000lbs. He’s hostile AF but he’s oddly voiced by Christopher Walken. Now, I love Walken almost as much as his mother does, but it was a weird and jarring choice. King Louie is scary, but Walken’s voice is far from it. He’s got the voice of a stand-up comedian or a jazz band leader, it’s one of the most recognizable voices out there, and it didn’t belong to this ape. And then he breaks out into a show tune, which is NOT something Colonel Kurtz would be caught dead doing, so the tone of the movie just falls apart like the chain falling off of a bicycle, and the whole thing just stinks. Stinks! And not just because it’s a temple full of monkeys.

So why bother making a “live-action” version of the movie when there’s only a single live thing about it? Neel Sethi as little Mowgli is pretty charming, but he never met a single animal during the filming of The Jungle Book – which is a good thing, because seeing a small boy in the arms of how-the-beautiful-visual-reality-of-the-jungle-book-was-made-on-an-la-sound-stage-954479a black panther makes most adults want to scream “Run you little idiot!” In fact,  Jim Henson’s Creature Shop was brought in to make puppets for Sethi to act against, but those were completely replaced with CGI versions later. And as for the lush Indian landscape, it’s 100% phony too. The whole thing was filmed on a back lot in smoggy Los Angeles with a blue screen and some Styrofoam painted to look like jungle.

Tonnes of people loved this movie and I’m not one of them. If you’re going to maxresdefaultgive me talking animals, that’s fine, but they’d better also have careers and pants and fart jokes. If an animal looks real and normally eats people, I don’t want to see him dancing around with a man-cub. I have zero tolerance for this movie and as far as I’m concerned, King Louie can kiss my ass.

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30 thoughts on “The Jungle Book

  1. mikeladano

    GREAT review Jay. I have not seen this, I won’t see this, because the way you react to the CG animals is exactly what I was afraid of. There was a time I’d go and see anything that Favreau either directed or was in. I remember seeing “Made” and being one of maybe two dozen people in the theater. (I still love “Made”.) My Favreau infatuation officially ended with Iron Man 2. I can let The Jungle Book go.

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    1. Jay Post author

      I had no plans to see it and only caught it because it was playing opening night at the drive in, and yeah, I could have lived a happier life without it I think.

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  2. idioglossiablog

    LOL I was so waiting for this review! Okay I admit it I have a huge attachment to the original cartoon version, and I’m still going to check this one out, but since we usually agree on content I’ll wait for the DVD. Thanks for the heads up. 😉 G-uno

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    1. Jay Post author

      Zika is that mosquito-born virus that gives people rashes and fevers but worse, harms the fetus of a pregnant woman so the babies have encephalitis (sp?) – babies born with abnormally small heads.

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  3. Liz A.

    Why don’t you tell us how you really feel? 😉 Sorry you hated it. Of course, this means that you get out of the next awful movie. You’ve done your time this year.

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  4. Lorna Cunningham-Rushton

    I always want to comment but don’t want a Thingy account. I will set one up in honour of your 5 billion star review of a movie that I hated before I ever heard of that Christopher person. I do, on the other hand, revere you!

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  5. J.

    This really does look dreadful. I saw the trailer and thought “what’s this now?” I was fairly certain they’d done obe of these live action Jungle Book things before … but Lordy this looks utterly horrific. Favreau is just filling up his pension pot with stuff like this …

    At least you get to laugh at how dreadful it is though. Right?

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    1. Jay Post author

      We did laugh, but to be honest we had a little help in that department…

      And yes, I suspect that perhaps Favreau got some sort of buy 2 get 1 free deal with the CGI guys

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  6. Christopher

    I do have warm fuzzy memories of the 1967 Disney film, mainly because I had the soundtrack album and played the hell out of it even before I saw the movie. In those days we had to wait for Disney films to show up on TV or in special limited theatrical rereleases.
    Now that I’m done showing my age I’ll also mention that I love Kipling’s books which bear only the vaguest most passing resemblance to the film versions, mainly because the books are a pastiche of picaresque stories and poems.
    I appreciate films that try to be faithful to the source material but sometimes I like it even better when they use the source as a jumping-off point rather than a road map.
    This is a very roundabout way of saying thank you for confirming my worst fears and saving me from ever taking the time to see this latest version. The casting sounds brilliant–but then the casting of the 1967 Disney film was brilliant too. I wish that instead of trying to recreate that they’d used it as a jumping-off point.
    And thank you for writing about it so well. More movie reviews should have lines like “I avoided it like I feared it might give me Zika”.

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    1. Jay Post author

      I saw the original Jungle Book in theatres too – late 80s, maybe very early 90s, so I totally understand how that went for the longest time.

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  7. Kristine @ MumRevised

    Damn girl. My family saw this and want to go again so that I may see the magic. I think I’ll come down with Zika that day.
    The way you wrote this, not only brought tears of joy to my eyes, but also convinced me that you are officially my spirit animal. You don’t even need to be anthropomorphized (fucking great word).
    PS: It is so nice to be right.

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  8. Khalid Rafi

    So with you on this. Did not like this, at least the animated movie had a lot of energy through the beautiful animation, this to me came, across as nothing more than a really boring live-action remake. Not horrible or anything. Just, really, really boring

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