The Jungle Book (2016)
March 20, 2018
(The NC 2018 opening plays before showing NC in his room)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. It may surprise some of you that I'm actually a huge fan of The Jungle Book. (The poster of the 2016 remake is shown) No, no, not that one. (The DVD cover of the original Disney animated version is shown) No, no, not that one either. (An image of the Jungle Book app phone game is shown) The actual book. It's surprising how many people don't know the literary source to The Jungle Book.
(Images of the book are shown)
NC (vo): The classic collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling mostly tackled the ongoing separations yet parallels between abandonment and fostering, law and freedom, and the coming-of-age balance between trying to belong yet also trying to stand out.
NC: Then this came along...
(A clip of the "I Wanna Be Like You" song sequence from the animated film is shown)
NC: ...and it became the funny monkey movie!
(More clips of the animated film are shown)
NC (vo): And before you go nuts, I like this film fine. The animated Disney adaptation had little connection to the best known story from The Jungle Book, Mowgli's Brothers, but it was a cute little flick with some catchy songs and memorable characters.
NC: And seeing how we're still in the middle of Disney's Live-Action Remake Month...
(The Disney Live-Action Remake Month intro plays out, with the contrast clips of animated and live-action versions showing Baloo the bear this time)
NC: ...it only figures to talk about...I'll just say it...what I think is a weirdly beloved modern version.
(The title of the 2016 remake is shown, before showing its clips)
NC (vo): So, while most of these Disney remakes are big hits, there's usually a fair amount of people who find they can't get into what the movie is doing. Jungle Book is one of the few exceptions, sitting at 95% on Rotten Tomatoes and getting a reputation as the "grown-up" version compared to the other ones. Only a complete asshole would dare badmouth it...
(A caption "Will you be that asshole?" appears, causing NC to be delighted)
NC: Oh! I thought this day would never come!
NC (vo): Yeah, I'm that jerkoff who not only didn't like it, but...really didn't like it. Surprisingly, it's not because it wasn't enough like the book. The original film did that, and it was fine. It's that it tries to mix the book and the movie by focusing on their least effective elements while leaving out what made the other versions so memorable. What are these elements? Well, as your designated asshole, I'm excited to expand on this different point of view among a sea of disapproving comments.
(A comment by "Junglebookforever" appears next to NC, saying "YOU'RE A CANCER SANDWICH!")
NC: That's a good start. Let's take a look at 2016's Jungle Book.
(The movie starts by showing the Disney logo and signature castle, which has a hand-drawn design and resembles the logo in the 1960s, a homage to the fact that the animated film was released in 1967)
NC (vo): So, at first, you might be wondering why the logo looks nostalgically hand-drawn even though this is live-action. (We see the original Walt Disney Pictures logo) Especially when there's already a nostalgically hand-drawn logo they're not using.
NC: This is the confusing tone that'll accompany the next 90 minutes.
(The first scene shows Mowgli running through the jungle being chased by Bagheera the panther)
NC (vo): Oh, whoops. We skipped forward to the middle.
NC: No, wait. This is apparently clever.
NC (vo): Okay, just starting us off in the middle of things. I guess a lot of stories do that. Let's see what it adds.
(Bagheera pounces onto Mowgli, then speaks)
Bagheera (Ben Kingsley): You must be the very worst wolf I've ever seen.
NC: A weak-ass fake-out we all saw coming. Anything else?
(Mowgli and Bagheera then take a walk while talking with each other)
Bagheera: Wolves don't hide in trees.
Mowgli (Neel Sethi): I just picked the wrong tree.
Bagheera: It was a dead tree.
NC: I'm gonna take this talk about trees as no. There is nothing else. So why do we have this generic intro?
(The opening scenes of both the animated Disney and Chuck Jones versions (the 1976 cartoon Mowgli's Brothers) are shown)
NC (vo): The opening to both the book and the animated film are simple, straightforward, and reveal a lot of character. Within the first few moments, we know Mowgli is an abandoned baby, a predator has the chance to kill him but doesn't, creates a connection, showing love and care, and shows clearly that this is unusual and even risky, yet they still take that chance on this connection.
NC: But hell with that nonsense. We have the opening to U.S. Marshals!
(The opening scene of that film is shown)
NC (vo): Yeah, remember that sequel to The Fugitive you don't remember? They start off with a bland action sequence with the main character that doesn't tie in to the rest of the movie. A lot of shitty films do that, but to be fair, (Cut back to the animated film, while showing the image of the book) they don't already have a perfectly written intro laid out for them.
NC: And I know. It seems like a lot to harp on so early, but the other intros really do suck you in.
NC (vo): It shows you who they are, how they became this way, and how their world works. (Cut back to the 2016 remake) This one, rather than showing you, tells you.
(Mowgli and Bagheera are shown walking back to the home of the wolf family, as we hear Bagheera narrate)
Bagheera (vo): When I found him many years ago, he was just an infant, abandoned in the woods. That's why I entrusted him to the wolves.
(Cut briefly to Mowgli's Brothers)
NC (vo): The book had a lot of explaining about its environment, too, but it was done through Mowgli's eyes as the newcomer. If he didn't follow these rules, he'll die. We're emotionally invested.
(Cut back to the 2016 remake)
NC (vo): Here, it sounds like what you study for a test.
(More scenes of Bagheera's narration are shown)
Bagheera (vo): Akela was the just and noble leader. / And the Water Truce was called. / It was Raksha who raised him. / It had been many, many years since the Peace Rock was revealed. / By Law of the Jungle, drinking comes before eating.
(A sleeping NC is suddenly woken up by an off-screen teacher, voiced by toned-down Doug)
Teacher: Critic, how does the Law of the Jungle go?
NC: Oh, um...I pledge allegiance...
Teacher: See me after class.
NC: See you after class, yeah.
NC (vo): By the way, see if you can tell which lines are from one of the greatest literacy minds who ever lived, and which ones are Disney writers trying to make their five-year-old laugh.
(Mowgli is shown reciting the "Law of the Jungle" with the wolves)
Mowgli: The Law runneth over and back, for the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.
(We cut to a porcupine named Ikki walking in a rocky spot)
Ikki (Garry Shandling): There's a rock. It's my rock, it's my rock. Nobody touches my rock. It's my rock.
(We cut to a later scene showing Mowgli reciting the "Law of the Jungle" to Baloo the bear)
Mowgli: The wolf that keeps it may prosper, but the wolf that breaks it will die.
(Cut to an earlier scene showing tiny animals speaking with each other)
Animals: Weird. Weird. That's weird.
NC: Pretty hard to tell, right? At least the other one didn't even try. (The DVD cover of the animated film is shown again) They knew that lines like this...
(Cut to a scene of Mowgli's Brothers, showing Mowgli holding the Red Flower, scaring Shere Khan and the wolves)
Mowgli (Chuck Jones version): I do not call you my brothers anymore, but dogs! I see that you are indeed dogs!
NC: ...wouldn't mix with lines like this.
(Cut to the "I Wanna Be Like You" scene from the Disney version, showing Baloo dressed as a monkey and King Louie dancing and scatting together)
King Louie (Animated version): Za-bah-doo-dee!
Baloo (Animated version): Well, a-ree-bah-naza...
King Louie (Animated version): He-beh-do-beh-doy!
Baloo (Animated version): Well, a-lah-bah-zini...
NC: They were saving the more grown-up version for the sequel. (The DVD cover for The Jungle Book 2 is shown)
(As NC speaks, we are shown many scenes of the opening, mainly to show off several characters and the film's groundbreaking CGI visual effects)
NC (vo): Mowgli, played by Neel Sethi, forms a strong friendship with Bagheera, voiced by Ben Kingsley. And to their credit, everybody in this film acts fine. (We briefly see the remake's version of King Louie) Even ones chosen to act bad are surprisingly pretty good, but we'll get to that in a bit. The technology is very impressive, too, as it truly is hard to believe that all of this takes place inside a studio. But the characters and world-building are still very strange.
(At Peace Rock, where Mowgli, Bagheera, the wolves, and all kinds of animals come together to drink water, Shere Khan the tiger appears to confront them all, demanding that the wolf family hand over the "man-cub")
NC (vo): For example, Shere Khan, voiced by Idris Elba, comes to drink from the water on the day of peace. It makes little sense and isn't from the book, but I'll give it a pass for at least trying to sound adult.
Shere Khan (Idris Elba): A man-cub becomes man, and man...is...forbidden!
NC: This Shere Khan is...odd.
(Footage of Shere Khan from all three versions, the Chuck Jones version, the Disney animated film, and this movie, is shown)
NC (vo): In the original story, he's a screaming, bloodthirsty thug, but still followed the laws of the jungle. In the animated one, he's calm and sophisticated, but does whatever he wants for the thrill of it. Here, they try to combine the two, and...
NC: (becomes confused) ...it just doesn't add up.
NC (vo): He has an elegant vocabulary, but he's always dirty and covered in mud. Imagine if the animated one looked like that. (An image of the animated Shere Khan, but covered in Photoshopped mud, is shown) He'd look ridiculous.
Shere Khan (Animated version): You're trying my patience.
NC (vo): He also goes on and on about following the Law of the Jungle and that Mowgli should be killed because man is too dangerous...
NC: But we'll get to that in a moment. Just remember I said that.
NC (vo): For now, there's concern about whether or not the law-abiding Shere Khan will not harm Mowgli.
(In the middle of a rainy night, Mowgli watches as the wolf council endlessly debates about Shere Khan's demands and Mowgli's future)
Bagheera (vo): It was a question the council had to face. They deliberated and they argued for many days.
NC: It was more interesting when they showed this discussion, but school's not supposed to be fun!
(Eventually, Mowgli approaches the wolf council to make his decision)
Mowgli: I'm leaving.
(Mowgli's wolf mother Raksha approaches him)
Raksha (Lupita Nyong'o): No matter where you go, or what they may call you, you will always be my son.
NC: Feel free to return to share our incredible moments, like...hearing Bagheera talk about our incredible moments.
(Mowgli and Bagheera are shown beginning their journey, walking through various parts of the jungle)
NC (vo): So Mowgli agrees to leave to keep the wolves safe, but Bagheera says he's gonna take him to the Man Village, which Mowgli doesn't want to go to. (At a grassy field, Shere Khan suddenly appears and ambushes the two, fighting and injuring Bagheera while chasing after Mowgli) Shere Khan separates them, though, as Mowgli tries hiding among the wildebeest stampede.
(Mowgli stands on a muddy field amidst the stampeding wildebeests as Shere Khan watches from afar)
(Mowgli grabs a wildebeest and hangs onto it as the stampeding wildebeests escape from an enraged Shere Khan)
NC (vo): Mowgli gets away, though, which should make Shere Khan happy, seeing how he's finally out of the jungle. But he returns to the wolves and, well, kills their leader and holds them hostage until Mowgli returns.
(After killing Akela, Shere Khan turns to face all the wolves)
Shere Khan: Until I have the man-cub, these hills are my hills.
NC (vo): Okay, this brings me back to what I was saying before.
NC: Now, this might sound like a dumb question at first, but really think about it, like actually think it over. Why does Shere Khan want Mowgli?
(Footage of Mowgli's Brothers and the Disney animated version is shown)
NC (vo): In the originals, it's because he lives among them. Makes sense, he thinks he's gonna grow into a man and kill them. In the animated one, it's for the thrill of the hunt. He loves the challenge and smiles whenever he even hears the mention of man.
Shere Khan (Animated version): I'm going to close my eyes and count to 10. It makes the chase more interesting...for me.
NC: Here...I don't really know.
(Footage of Shere Khan in the 2016 remake is shown)
NC (vo): If he can do anything he wants like in the animated one, why didn't he just get Mowgli at the watering hole? Nobody's stopping him from taking over the wolves, so nobody would stop him there. If he follows the rules like in the book, he just threw those out the window when he killed the wolves' leader. And it doesn't matter, 'cause Mowgli's out of the jungle anyway. There's no threat. Either way, there's no reason for him to want this damn kid, not in character motivation or logical survival*.
- (Note: The film's version of Shere Khan is presented as a brutal, hypocritical, violent and evil tiger, one who claims he wants to follow the law, but has clearly proven he likes to break the law and do violent things just because he likes doing so, something that Raksha called him out on during the scene at the Peace Rock. He also first demanded the wolves give up Mowgli so he could kill him, not demanded that Mowgli leave the jungle like NC had claimed, but they had not complied, so Shere Khan killed the leader and took the wolves hostage so he can lure Mowgli back to him so he can kill him, eventually revealing to Raksha that he never wanted Mowgli gone, he wanted him dead)
NC: I know they're trying to be the "grown-up" version, but when the adult version (2016 remake) can't answer why and the kid version (1967 animated film) can, you're pretty much becoming DC. (Two DC images, one an animated Batman and Superman from the 1997 movie World's Finest, and the other an image of Batman v Superman, are shown)
(We are shown Mowgli encountering a giant, sinister python named Kaa after having a quarrel with Bagheera)
NC (vo): But don't worry. Their version of Kaa is sure to win you over. (Clips of Kaa from the original animated film are shown) Yeah, you remember him? Arguably pointless, but so much fun to watch, you wouldn't dream of filming a Jungle Book movie without him. He was funny, but also had a predatory creepiness to him. Think Winnie the Pooh crossed with Herbert from Family Guy.
Kaa (Animated version): You don't want me to look at you?
Mowgli (Animated version): I know what you're trying to do.
NC: He had two lengthy scenes in the animated one, so let's see what they do with him here.
(Cut back to the 2016 remake's version of Kaa)
NC (vo): Well, first of all, he's a she now, played by Scarlett Johansson.
Kaa (Scarlett Johansson): Poor sweet little cub.
NC (vo): Okay, odd, but I'll see where they're going with this.
(Kaa, while hypnotizing Mowgli, reveals his backstory to him through her eyes, showing Shere Khan attacking and killing his father. After revealing this, Kaa attempts to eat a hypnotized Mowgli, but is stopped and chased away by Baloo the bear)
NC (vo): She, for no reason I can figure, tells him that Shere Khan killed his father, then tries to eat him, but is knocked out by Baloo the bear. And...that's it. No more Kaa.
NC: Under two minutes of no jokes, no songs, not even really any character!
NC (vo): But, man, does she use those plot points for hypnotizing people that'll leave no impression on our main character. Like, he doesn't even bring up, "Oh, it sucks that Shere Khan killed my dad." Kind of looks like he just forgets about it through most of the movie.
NC: So, which one is really better? (The animated Kaa is shown on the right) The silly little kid version that no one remembers? (The live-action Kaa is then shown on the left) Or the super-complex, dark and gritty, grown-up version...? (An X appears on top of the live-action Kaa, meaning the viewers have picked her to be the better version, stunning NC) What the hell are you people?
NC (vo): Oh, by the way, is that the motivation for why Shere Khan wants Mowgli so bad? He wants to go after the offspring of the man who burned his face?* Well, he already killed the guy. I don't see what going after the offspring's gonna do. Is he also gonna say, "Screw the Law of the Jungle and my livelihood because I didn't get the son of an antelope, or the daughter of a quail, or the nephew of a zebra"? This is still dumb if this is it!
- (Note: The answer to that question is actually yes. That's something Shere Khan mentions near the end of the film when he says to Mowgli, "Did you think I would let you grow old?" and "How long did you really think you'd survive against me? Longer than your father did? Longer than...Akela?" And due to his hypocritical and evil nature, it is likely Shere Khan would kill anything to get what he desires)
(Mowgli wakes up to see Baloo the bear sniffing him, and he screams in shock)
Baloo (Bill Murray): Relax, kid. No need to get worked up, okay?
NC (vo): So Bill Murray plays Bill Murray voicing a bear playing Bill Murray.
Baloo: You owe me, kid. You owe me.
NC: I guess his distinct voice can be a little distracting, but if you never heard Little John when watching the original, you are lying to your soul. (Two images of the animated Baloo and Little John from Robin Hood, both voiced by Phil Harris, are shown)
NC (vo): As payback for saving Mowgli's life, Baloo uses him to climb up a mountain to get him honey, telling him the bees don't sting.
(After he gets the honey for Baloo from the bee hive using a made-up contraption of his, Mowgli approaches an eating Baloo, his body covered in bee stings)
Mowgli: You said they didn't sting. What do you call this?
Baloo: (dubbed over by Peter Venkman (also Bill Murray) from Ghostbusters) Back off, man. I'm a scientist.
(Baloo, now fascinated with Mowgli, begins following him, as he is about to leave)
Mowgli: I have to go to the Man Village.
NC (vo): So Mowgli decides to head to the Man Village...I guess he's okay with going there again*...and Baloo says he'll show him the way.
- (Note: Mowgli possibly decided to go there due to the earlier Shere Khan attack and realizing his dangerous nature more after Kaa revealed his backstory to him)
(At night, Baloo and Mowgli see the Man Village in the distance)
Baloo: You can always tell by the Red Flower.
Mowgli: The Red Flower doesn't seem so bad.
Baloo: Yeah. Let it loose, and it destroys everything it touches.
NC: Kind of weird how he calls fire "the Red Flower", but a moment earlier, he used the word "propaganda".
(Cut to an earlier part of the scene showing Baloo's reaction to Mowgli reciting the Law of the Jungle)
Baloo: That's not a song. That's propaganda.
NC: Guess they got a lot of Michael Moore movies in the jungle.
(And we go to a commercial. When we come back, we cut back to the earlier scene of Mowgli and Baloo talking)
NC (vo): Baloo convinces Mowgli to stay with him in the jungle as they sing a familiar tune.
Baloo: (singing) I mean the bare necessities...
Mowgli: What's that?
Baloo: That's a song about the good life.
NC: Yeah, in the other version, they were on Song 3, but I guess this is a good time to do our first.
(We cut to Mowgli and Baloo bonding over Mowgli's "tricks" to get honey for Baloo and Baloo showing Mowgli the fun side of life by floating down a river together and singing)
Baloo and Mowgli: (singing) Bare necessities, the simple bare necessities.
NC (vo): I do like that Mowgli puts devices together to help get food and actually makes me realize how pretty useless he was in the animated one.
(A clip from the animated film showing Mowgli kidnapped by monkeys is shown, before we are shown the live-action scene of Mowgli using his "tricks" to rescue a baby elephant from a pit as Baloo and a recently-arrived Bagheera watch, impressed)
NC (vo): He even finds an elephant trapped in a hole and uses his ingenuity to get him out. That's actually a pretty nice scene. But it's botched when Bagheera finds them both and tries to take Mowgli back to the Man Village. You see, when he tells Baloo that Shere Khan is after him, Baloo...for no frigging reason*...lies to Mowgli about why he has to go!
(Baloo, having been told by Bagheera about Shere Khan's threat and realizing he can't guarantee Mowgli's safety because of it, talks with Mowgli (*Note: That's the reason Baloo does this, plus Mowgli seemed to break his promise about going to the village after winter, so Baloo pulled the "break-up" card as the last resort))
Baloo: Maybe it's time...for you two to mosey along.
Mowgli: We're buddies, aren't we?
Baloo: No, we were never really friends. I certainly never thought of you as my friend. (Tries to act rough) Do I have to spell this out? I don't want you around anymore.
NC: Okay, look. This scene in the animated one is kind of lame, too, 'cause Mowgli's just being a brat. But Baloo still tells him the truth.
(The animated film's version of Baloo and Mowgli's falling out is shown)
NC (vo): And it's Mowgli's constant fear of the Man Village that drives him away. (Cut back to the 2016 remake) In this version, Baloo convinces him to stay in the jungle. Mowgli was actually gonna go to the Man Village even without Bagheera.
NC: So why the hell doesn't he just be honest?!
NC (vo): "Go to the village, or Shere Khan will kill the shit out of you!" He already knows how dangerous he is. In the original, he's never seen him before, but here, he got attacked by him several times! So, yeah! "Go to the Man Village! Come visit! We'll hang out just like the original plan we had!"
(Cut back to the earlier scene of Baloo and Mowgli looking at the Man Village)
Baloo: If it turns out to not be fun for you, I will walk you right down to that Man Village myself.
Mowgli: Just till winter.
NC (vo): There is no goddamn reason for this pitifully forced friendship breakup! It's lazy. It's done in a million movies to create a third act rift, and it's lazy! (We swiftly cut to Mowgli's Brothers and the animated version before cutting back to the 2016 film) The book didn't need him lying, the animated one didn't need him lying, but this one does, because it's the "grown-up" version.
NC: Hey, you know what's grown-up? Treating kids with respect and being creative in what you teach them, you LAZY ASSHOLES!
(A sulking Mowgli is confronted by a grey monkey)
NC (vo; sighs): Okay, so, what characters hadn't made an appearance yet?
(The monkey screeches at Mowgli. Cut to a clip from Super Mario Bros. (1993))
King Koopa: Monkey!
(A group of monkeys called the Bandar-Log suddenly appear and kidnap Mowgli to take him to their leader, King Louie, a giant Gigantopithecus ape. Before meeting him, Mowgli picks up a cowbell and rings it; a green arrow points to the cowbell)
NC (vo): That's right. Monkeys kidnap Mowgli and take him to a temple, where King Louie, voiced by Christopher "You bet your ass they made this joke" Walken, resides, who...in all fairness, is actually kind of good.
NC: I'm not even kidding. It's a totally different tone and attitude, but it kind of works.
King Louie (Christopher Walken): You, man-cub. You come from the south, the north? What part?
Mowgli: The south, I guess.
King Louie: You know who I am? I am the king of the Bandar-Log. (Steps out of the shadows to reveal himself)
NC (vo): He's kind of like a Mafia boss, soft-spoken, but intimidating. He's threatening, but also weirdly engaging.
King Louie: You wanna live here? You need a people to protect you.
NC (vo): But just when you think this is something untainted by stupid...
(King Louie, in an attempt to convince Mowgli to give up the secret of the Red Flower, starts singing)
King Louie: (singing) Now don't try to kid me, man-cub. I'll make a deal with you.
NC: (stunned) Oh, my God. Is this happening?
King Louie: (singing) What I desire is man's red fire to make my dream come true.
(Cut briefly to a clip from No Country for Old Men)
Anton Cigurh: You don't have to do this.
King Louie: (singing) Now give me the secret, man-cub. Come on! Clue me what to do.
(Cut to a clip from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
Commander Kruge: GET OUT! GET OUT OF THERE!
King Louie: (singing) [Give me the power] of man's Red Flower so I can be like you. Oh, oo-be-doo!
(Cut to a clip from The Abyss)
Virgil "Bud" Brigman: NOOOOOOO!!!
(We are shown more clips of King Louie singing "I Wanna Be Like You" as NC speaks)
NC (vo): Okay, so you might be thinking: "Come on. This song was in the animated one. Why not here?"
NC: (raises his head from a table) Because there is no other point in the movie that's a friggin' musical!
NC (vo): "Bare Necessities" is a song, but not a musical number. It's a tune Baloo teaches Mowgli, and they sing it together. This song ("I Wanna Be Like You") is being used to speak and communicate. It's replacing conversation and expressing motivation, and it's the only one like it in the movie.
NC: It's like in the end of Full Metal Jacket when they sing the "Mickey Mouse Club".
(We are shown the ending of Full Metal Jacket, showing all the soldiers marching and singing the "Mickey Mouse Club March")
Soldiers: (singing) M-I-C-K-E-Y...
NC (vo): They're just singing a song they all know after battle. It makes sense.
NC: But if the drill sergeant broke out singing...
NC (vo): ..."Let it Go", and everybody joined him...
NC: ...it'd be friggin' goddamn ludicrous!
(Cut back to King Louie singing "I Wanna Be Like You")
NC (vo): This is that scene! It's friggin' goddamn ludicrous!
NC: How did it get this again?! (Entirely confused, he points to the film's Rotten Tomatoes' critics' score of 95% and audiences' score of 86%)
(After King Louie stops singing and begins to get aggressive with Mowgli, Baloo suddenly comes in to save the day, distracting Louie and the monkeys while Bagheera saves Mowgli)
NC (vo): Baloo comes in to create a distraction as Bagheera saves Mowgli. (As Mowgli attempts to escape, King Louie stops him) But before getting him out, Louie reveals that the leader of the wolves (Akela) is dead.
King Louie: Shere Khan killed him.
NC (vo): Again, Bagheera could have relayed that information, but we have to pretend this pointless scene wasn't a pointless scene because, again...
NC: (finger quotes) "Grown-up" version!
(Mowgli sneaks towards the Man Village to grab a flaming torch to use as a weapon against Shere Khan)
NC (vo): Finding this out, Mowgli sneaks into the Man Village to grab the Red Flower to fight off Shere Khan. (As Mowgli runs through the jungle, a few sparks of fire fall into the jungle floor, eventually starting a wildfire that engulfs the jungle) A few drops of it fall, and I can see where the phrase "spread like wildfire" comes from because...shit! The whole jungle's on fire in seconds!
NC: Okay, this would have to literally go from this (The scene showing the sparks of fire touching the ground) to this (The whole jungle engulfed in a wildfire) in a matter of minutes. Even wildfire doesn't spread like wild fire!
(As Mowgli confronts Shere Khan while holding the torch, he notices that the other animals are starting to be afraid of him)
NC (vo): So the animals are now afraid of Mowgli for starting the fire, even his family.
(Refusing to kill him with the Red Flower and become what Shere Khan believes he is, Mowgli throws the torch away into a lake)
NC (vo): But he throws out the fire, which is the stupidest thing he could've done.
Shere Khan: That was the stupidest thing you could've done.
NC: Right? If you've destroyed their home, you might as well use it for its original intent!
(Inspired by Mowgli's selfless act, Baloo, Bagheera, the wolves and the other animals stand by Mowgli and face Shere Khan while reciting the "Law of the Jungle", making Shere Khan completely lose his cool and release his true brutal and violent nature)
NC (vo): But the animals stand behind Mowgli to say "Thanks for burning everything down" and "Why the hell didn't we rise up to fight this jackass days earlier?"
Shere Khan: (completely enraged) I WILL HAVE YOU ALL IN MY TEETH! (Charges towards all the animals)
NC (vo): So all the animals rush to take down Shere Khan... (Baloo charges towards Shere Khan and fights him first) Or Baloo just rushes in and everybody else just shows moral support. What can we do? We're just killer animals! We can't fight those killer animals!
(Shere Khan gets the upper hand and bites Baloo on the back)
(The wolves and the other animals charge towards Shere Khan, while Bagheera stops Mowgli from attempting to join them)
NC (vo): Baloo gets taken down, though, as everyone remembers, "Oh, yeah. We can...do something.", as Mowgli is told not to fight him like a wolf, but fight him like a man.
Bagheera: Fight him like a man.
(Mowgli and Shere Khan, who's chasing him, climb up a dead tree)
NC: You know what this scene needs? (The vultures from the animated film are shown) Buzzards that sound like the Beatles. It'd be as inconsistent as everything else.
(Mowgli lures Shere Khan onto a branch and swings away with a made-up rope. The branch breaks under the tiger's weight and Shere Khan falls into the fire to his death)
NC (vo): Mowgli defeats Shere Khan through his inventive ways, and he falls to his death. (Mowgli then directs the elephants to divert the river and put out the fire) He also manages to convince the elephants to put out the fires...yeah, they just dug holes with their tusks and lead the water there.
NC: Though, given how fast those flames spread, half of India should be on fire now! (A map of India covered in burning flames is shown)
NC (vo): And the animals honor Mowgli.
(All the animals look at Mowgli riding on one of the elephants as Bagheera narrates again)
Bagheera (vo): That night, I saw something I'll never forget. I saw a little boy, without a people, bring all the jungle together for the very first time.
NC (vo): ...that other time all the animals came together, which apparently happened so often...
NC: ...you have a name for the place, Peace Rock.
(Cut briefly to the Peace Rock scene)
Bagheera (vo): You could come to the Peace Rock and find all people, side by side.
NC (vo): Don't dress this up, Bagheera. He set your home on fire and somebody else put it out.
NC: He's the equivalent of a donkey kicking a lantern.
(As NC speaks, we are shown the ending of the movie, showing Raksha becoming the new leader of the wolves, and Mowgli deciding to utilize his "tricks" for his own use, having finally found his place in the jungle)
NC (vo): But, okay, you know the drill. After all this talk of acting like a man, fighting like a man, and thinking like a man, the time has come for him to... (Mowgli is shown climbing up a tree next to the wolves' home) go absolutely nowhere.
(NC is completely stunned, before nodding in reluctance)
NC: Interesting change.
(The ending scenes of Mowgli's Brothers and the animated version are shown)
NC (vo): In just about every version, he goes back to the Man Village, because they build up that's where he belongs. (Cut back to the 2016 film) But...this one doesn't do that. Why?
NC: (face frozen and shaking his head) No goddamn clue!
(The final scene shows Mowgli, Bagheera and Baloo all relaxing together on the tree)
NC (vo): I have no idea how this makes anything better. (Clips of the animated version and the Chuck Jones cartoon are shown once again) The story, in most of its forms, is about accepting the responsibility of who you are and where you'll grow best. (Cut back to the 2016 remake's ending scene) But this one ends on an image just as lazy as the writing, closing the exact same book used in the animated film.
NC: Because, you know! You just saw the animated film, except it's live-action! They're so similar! (Again becomes confused, wondering how this movie could be so acclaimed) Guys, I don't get this.
(Footage of The Jungle Book (2016) plays out as NC gives his final thought. We are also shown clips of the Chuck Jones cartoon and the Disney animated original once more)
NC (vo): I know, objectively, this isn’t an awful film. If there were no books or other versions, it’d probably just be seen as a passable kids’ flick. But there is a book and a perfectly good animated film, and nothing in this is better than either of those. The original story is aggressive, dark, and full of great truths. The animated film is cute, charming, and full of unforgettable characters. This tries to combine them without realizing what made them work on their own. Are you gonna remember any of these characters more than the animated one? Probably not. Are you gonna remember the language or lessons as much as the book?
NC: I don’t even think the movie remembers its own language or lessons, it keeps changing so much.
Wolves: This is the Law of the Jungle.
Ikki: There's a rock. It's my rock, it's my rock.
NC (vo): I know there’s no real harm in enjoying this film, but leaving out what made the book and the animated version so enjoyable and even important is a huge disservice to the storytellers who understand their medium and used it so cleverly. Whether it’s a delightful little kids’ movie you’ll return to more and more, or an epic coming-of-age story you’ll return to more and more, this one will most likely be looked at less and less.
NC: And you know what? I want Disney to do an authentic version of this book. I want it so authentic that the author's name is above the title.
(Be careful what you ask for; we are shown the title and clips of Disney's 1994 version of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, starring Jason Scott Lee)
Announcer: The Jungle Book.
NC: (annoyed) Not directed by the idiot who directed The Mummy movies!
(We are shown a scene of the 1994 film, showing Mowgli fighting against Captain William Boone)
Mowgli (1994 version): Strength of a bear. Speed of a panther.
(The film's version of King Louie smiles and applauds. NC is beyond stunned and shocked at what he saw, slowly coming to a realization)
NC: Okay. Maybe this version's (2016 remake) not as bad as I thought. I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to.
(He gets up and leaves. The credits roll, followed by the Channel Awesome logo)