Michael Bergeron
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The Jungle Book

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The Jungle Book is the kind of movie I wish they made when I was a kid. Wait, they did make a movie like this when I was a kid, and it was called The Jungle Book.

The 1967 The Jungle Book was a smash hit for Disney, coming out less than a year after Walt had died. The film was been re-released many times and remade by Disney (1994) in a live action version. Currently Warner Brothers has a version that is set for release in October 2024, helmed by Andy Serkis.

You can’t defeat a great story, and Rudyard Kipling wrote some of the best.maxresdefault (1)

The current version stars newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli the mancub, the only human to appear on screen. Voices of various animals are courtesy of Bill Murray (Baloo), Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Christopher Walken (King Louie), and a few others including Scarlett Johansson and Gary Shandling.

CGI action sequences of animals interacting with Mowgli range from outstanding to slightly above average. Perhaps the best parts are when the animals break out into song. “The Bare Necessities” and “I Wan’na Be Like You” from the 1967 edition are just great songs. I’m humming the latter as I write this.

If anything The Jungle Book should beckon its admirers to seek out other books by Kipling like The Man Who Would be King or Gunga Din. Kipling wrote about the empire when the empire was cool. He was such a good author they even named a local bar after him.

— Michael Bergeron