Stars: * 1/2
Rating: G for generally boring
Run Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
“Jungle Book 2” is the ultimate retread – bigger, louder, and infinitely less entertaining.
Picking up where Walt Disney’s original animated “The Jungle Book” (1967) left off, young Mowgli (voice of Haley Joel Osment) has forsaken his furry jungle friends and is living in the man-village with his adopted tribal family. “I never knew where I came from, but I always knew where I belonged” sighs the precocious man-child, while pining away for surrogate father and big bear buddy Baloo (voice of John Goodman)
You can take the boy out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the boy. Mowgli feels nature’s rhythms pounding in his bloodstream at the same time that his heart is being lassoed by fetching village honey Shanti (voice of Mae Whitman). Conflict rears its ugly head as Mowgli pits his human urges against his passion for the wild creatures who raised him as their own (cue the violins…).
Pseudo-adventurous subplot revolves around Mowgli’s former nemesis, man-eating Siberian tiger Shere Khan (voice-master extraordinaire Tony Jay), impatiently anticipating revenge against the untamed lad who thwarted Khan’s last assault. Shere Khan wants nothing more than to make Mowgli a Happy Meal, and that’s what we call a “plot”, folks.
Less-than-rousing musical numbers punctuate the action at all the wrong times. A mind-numbing reprise of “Bare Necessities” gets a limp boost from the wannabe-hip “Jungle Rhythm” and show-stopping “Little Mermaid” rip-off, “W-I-L-D”. Pacing problems render the action dull and lifeless. To say I’ve seen it before – character arcs, narrative structure, and predictable climax - is an understatement a hundred times over.
The question is why? The answer is… Ka-ching!