by Al Kessel
So...Mowgli returns! Right? Well...yeah. Sort of.
In 1967, Walt Disney Productions introduced us to the adventures of the young orphan boy Mowgli in their 19th animated feature The Jungle Book, inspired by the Rudyard Kipling classic of the same name. In this wonderful Disney animated feature, we watched as Mowglis jungle friends Baloo (the fun loving laid back bear, voice by Phil Harris), and Bagheera (the wise and determined black panther, voiced by Sebastian Cabot) set out to return him to the 'man-village' after the evil man eating tiger Shere Khan (voiced by George Sanders) is said to have returned to the jungle and out to eat Mowgli. Of course, in true Disney fashion, the trio encounter all sorts of fun on their way to deliver Mowgli. But...this isn't a review of the original The Jungle Book. This is about the 2003 sequel, The Jungle Book 2.
|John Goodman voices Baloo|
In this follow-up animated musical film, produced by DisneyToon Studios, it's been a little while since the little orphan boy returned to the 'man-village', and he's settled in quite well, with Shanti (the little girl from the original who 'lured' him back to civilization), her brother Ranjan and their parents. But, Mowgli misses the fun he used to have in the jungle with Baloo and all their friends. Of course, Shere Khan has returned looking for revenge on Mowgli. Meanwhile, Baloo sneaks into the 'man-village' and gets Mowgli to return to the jungle to live with him. Finding out that their adopted brother has left, Shanti and Ranjan go off into the jungle to retrieve Mowgli, and then...well, remember, no spoilers here! You'll have to see the movie to find out what happens next!
Now, it's of course obvious that nearly 40 years after the original, none of the original voice actors have returned to voice their roles. Replacing Phil Harris is John Goodman (Monsters, Inc.) as Baloo, and I have to admit, he does a really good job filling in as the fun loving bear. Haley Joel Osment voices Mowgli, and, although I do appreciate Haley in many of his roles, didn't quite get the same feeling as the original. Kaa, an Indian python who also seeks out Mowgli, to, uh, have him over for 'dinner', was played by Sterling Holloway in the original, and in the sequel, voiced by the incomparable Jim Cummings quite well.
|Haley Joel Osment voices Mowgli|
As in the first The Jungle Book, the sequel does have several musical numbers throughout. Some originals to the sequel, many remakes of songs from the first movie, such as The Bare Necessities and I Wan'na Be Like You (performed by Smash Mouth). Now...although I like the group Smash Mouth, I wasn't very fond of their rendition of this classic King Louie tune!
Originally released in theaters, The Jungle Book 2, although considered a box office success (the film budget was only $20 million and it grossed $135 million world wide at the box office), the film is considered by many Disney fans to be a bit of a flop. Perhaps one of the reasons was that instead of the lead character voices performing off of each other in the same studio, John Goodman and Haley Joel Osment were in different states recording at separate times!
|Mowgli and Shanti|
All in all, although no where as good as the first movie, The Jungle Book 2 is still a decent and fun animated adventure, and a must have for Disney Animated Film collectors.