(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from The Jungle Book)
Doug (vo): You know, it's funny. Over the years, I've always said, "Try to accept an art form for what it is and not always what it can be." And I find myself more and more kind of telling myself, man, what this could be. And maybe that's because when I see something repeated, I'm like, "I've already seen that. I wanna see something new or something that worked before and hasn't been seen on the big screen." Like, oh, I don't know... (Images of Rudyard Kipling's original book is shown) ...this incredible book that had a huge impact on my life and a lot of people's lives... (Brief clips of the 1967 Disney animated version are shown) ...and was given a cute but nothing groundbreaking adaptation. And then a new version comes along, saying it's gonna be more faithful to the original source, and everybody's praising it. They're just saying how incredible it is. And then you check it out, and it...it's combining it with the cutesy adaptation. In fact, it's more the cutesy adaptation, and anything they have from the original is...really odd and doesn't match, and it's, like...what's wrong? It doesn't even work in terms of the adaptation, I... (Immediately calms down and resumes speaking calmly) Okay. A lot of people like this movie. I...don't really see it, but...maybe that's not what I should be talking about here. What I'm trying to focus on is, if you take away the original source material, like, let's say we never heard of The Jungle Book, the original stories, the animated Disney version, all that stuff, it's just its own movie, what would I think of this? I suppose I would say, it's passable.
(Footage focusing on the film's visual effects is shown)
Doug (vo): I think the only thing that would really leave an impact on me would be the technology, because, my God, when I saw this, I had no idea if there were no shots outside. That really blew my mind. I think that's one of the reasons so many critics got onboard with it, because they were probably blown away by that, too, and I don't blame them. I mean, look at this. It looks like they're really outside, and a lot of the animals are kind of hit and miss whether or not you believe they're really there, but it's still pretty impressive. But the story and tone is still kind of all over the place, and I think that's because they're trying to combine it with the harsher tone of the original book, but still try to be that cute, charming Disney version that a lot of us know. I know I've already reviewed this as a Nostalgia Critic episode, but I'm trying to come back to it with a little bit more of an open mind, just to see where people are coming from. And even if I don't agree, I still think it's important to see what point of view other people have.
Doug (vo): Mowgli is a little boy who's raised by wolves. The fierce tiger, Shere Khan, has hated Mowgli for years because he killed his family and wasn't able to kill him, so he sees him as prey he never managed to get. Mowgli runs away, being told he has to go to the man kingdom, but he comes across a bear named Baloo, played by Bill Murray. He likes Mowgli 'cause he can go and get honey for him, and the more they stick around, the more they form a bit of a friendship, singing, of course, "The Bare Necessities". But not only is the panther Bagheera, played by Ben Kingsley, trying to hunt him down and take him to the Man Village, but we also have Shere Khan, who's holding his family hostage, I guess, and has a hit put out on him, and King Louie, the ruler of the monkeys, voiced surprisingly well by Christopher Walken, who wants to use him so he can figure out the secret of fire, or the "Red Flower".
Doug (vo): At first, I thought Walken was probably gonna be the best thing in this movie, and not for the reasons you would think. When he comes out, he's legit intimidating, like, he has this really serious voice, and he's kept in the shadows, and it's kind of like talking to this old gangster. It surprisingly really works. But, you know, sing the stupid song, even though at no other point has ever been established as a musical. I mean, Baloo's just singing, it's just a song he's singing. It's not like everybody stops and sings with him. It's just a song. Here, it's suddenly a musical, and we're near the end of the flick! But...with that said, looking at it from a different point of view, I guess it is kind of funny. I mean, it's Christopher Walken singing, and it's weird, and it's awkward, and it's like, yeah, I can see how someone could kind of get a laugh out of this. Even the movie almost seems to be playing it up as a laugh, like, "Yeah, we're doing this. Look, Christopher Walken is singing this song. What?" And I guess I can see where you're coming from with that.
(The film's climax is shown in several clips, along with clips focusing on Mowgli)
Doug (vo): The climax comes down to Mowgli convincing all the animals to stand up against Shere Khan, even though, yeah, wasn't that the Law of the Jungle before? Again, didn't they follow this?! Okay, calm down, calm down. I guess from the viewpoint of someone who's only seen the animated Disney version and hasn't read the book or seen any of the other adaptations, would maybe look at this as a more adult version. I mean, look at that tiger. It's a creepy tiger. Look at some of this imagery. It's very intense. The boy, while I never saw it as a great performance, is still doing a pretty damn good job, considering he's just a little kid, he's acting along literally nothing, and he has to pretend he's in the jungle, talking to his best friend, a bear, while this tiger that's not really there and this tree that's not really there is trying to get him.
(Clips focusing on the film's final scenes are shown, while clips focusing on the ending scene of the original animated film are shown as well)
Doug (vo): The ending, I won't give away, but for me, it's kind of an insult, not because it's not like the original book, though that does have a phenomenal ending, but because it's not like the animated one either! The animated one had this beautiful, almost haunting song, with this girl going to this pond and just singing this kind of eerie lullaby that kind of draws Mowgli in, and he's realizing what he is and where he belongs, and it's kind of this beautiful strange scene, it's almost hypnotic. But it's also cute and funny, and like the majority of the film, it's unbelievably charming. This one just ends on a...whatever note. It's just kind of a "nothing" ending, like everything that was important about the original book and the animated version just isn't important here.
(Various clips resume showing)
Doug (vo): But like I said, if I never knew the book and all I knew was the original Disney version, I would probably see this as a heavier, darker version that, yeah, had some plot holes that didn't make sense, but I probably wouldn't be reading that deep into anyway, because my general consensus with The Jungle Book that I get from people is that they like it. "Yeah. On to the next thing." You remember it, but it doesn't leave a huge impact or anything.
Doug (vo): So, okay, wrapping up, looking at it from the mindset of someone who's only seen the animated one, I guess I can see how they would say, "This is alright. It's fine." The technology is arguably a game-changer, and it does, I guess, the bare minimum of what a Disney live-action remake of The Jungle Book would be, and as these remakes go, the bare minimum is not a bad bar to hit. It is harsher than the animated one, it is more intense, but it's hard for me to say it's darker, because darker implies there's a lot more weight to what's going on, and I just don't get that here. But especially when you get to the end, there's not as big an impact. I think that's why now, when people look back on it, they say, "Yeah, that was good, but not great." But people do look back at the animated Jungle Book and say, "Yeah, I really like that", and they can't always quite say why. There's just something really likeable about it. So, let's agree on that. Whether you like this new one or not, the original is a lot more likeable. Even though it was coming from an original source material, it kind of did its own thing, where this one's trying to combine a lot of stuff, and they don't quite work, but, hey, that technology's cool and wasted a few minutes with a kind of more intense story, so there you go. So looking at it from a different point of view, I get it. I can see why people enjoy this fine. Is it my thing? Definitely not. Do I recommend you check out the book or other adaptations, especially the Chuck Jones one? Big time. But not to change your opinion about this, just to give you a different version of a story that you might find fascinating. And before you ask, yes, I did see the Andy Serkis one, which is also not very good. It kind of has the opposite problem, it tries to throw too much of the book in too fast. But I guess that's neither here nor there. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm coming from a place where I couldn't conceive how anyone could like this movie, and now, I do understand it, I see it from a different point of view. So if you enjoy it, more power to you. For me, I'm gonna put on the Chuck Jones version again. To each their own, man.
(The film's final scene, showing Mowgli, Baloo and Bagheera each relaxing on a tree branch, is shown)