This week, we watched The Jungle Book 2, released in 2003. Of all of the sequels produced by DisneyToon, The Jungle Book 2 was only the second (and would be the last) to be released theatrically. Because of their success on the home video market, there was usually no reason to release these films in theaters, but both this and Return to Never Land ended up there anyway.
The Jungle Book 2 picks up where the original left off. Mowgli followed Shanti home and is now living in the man-village. His fascination with the jungle is not welcomed, however, and Shanti and her father try to keep the jungle talk to a minimum, with little success. Though Mowgli likes the people in the village, he misses his bear pal Baloo who has been repeatedly attempting to bring him back into the jungle. The rest of the film consists of a tug-of-war between Mowgli, Baloo, and Shanti, alongside all of our other favorite characters such as Bagheera, Shere Kahn, and Kaa. The only major character who doesn’t return is King Louie. Apparently, this was due to a legal issue, but I cannot find a reputable source to verify that.
Though this was released theatrically as I mentioned before, this is little here that is up to theatrical standards. It is an innocent film and isn’t nearly as terrible as some of the other sequels we have looked at in the past weeks, but it isn’t great either. The best part of the film is probably its excellent voice cast. Each actor that has been placed in these roles does a stellar job at bringing the classic characters back to life. John Goodman voices Baloo and channels Phil Harris perfectly. Tony Jay voices the deliciously evil Shere Kahn. Jay was not only an accomplished actor in many mediums but was also a frequent Disney voice artist, most notable for his performance of Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Jim Cummings, who we all know as the current voice of Pooh, is unsurprisingly great as Kaa the snake.
The animation here is decent, all things considered. A far cry from the animation of the original, but definitely passable and nothing to take major issue with. Despite a couple of new songs, most of the music has been reused from the original, including “The Bare Necessities.” The biggest problem is the story. It is mostly a retread of vignettes from the first, loosely surrounding a new story. None of it is all that interesting or memorable, but young children probably won’t have an issue.
For me, this film represents the precise middle ground of the DisneyToon sequels: it is not terrible, and it is not good. It is completely average.
Next week, the movie is Atlantis: Milo Return. Happy watching!