Jungle boy Mowgli (voiced by Osment) decides to forsake civilized village life for the "bare necessities" of the wild with his old friends. However, the evil tiger Shere Khan is looking for a little payback after Mowgli's last adventure. Trouble's a-brewing! Written by
We just took our two daughters (ages five and four) to their first cinema experience...The Jungle Book 2. Though it had a few scary parts (Shere Khan close ups), overall it was pleasant and didn't contain the violence that has characterized a number of other childrens videos that we've rented.
The above experience not withstanding, as I watched the film I kept thinking that this movie should not have gone to the theaters, but should have been sent straight to video. When you look at the voice talent (John Goodman, Phil Collins, Haley Joel Osment), you initially expect big gun entertainment. It is later that it dawns on you that you've paid cinema prices for a film that lasts only around 75 minutes and has a plot that is more concerned with having the original cast make almost forced appearance (look! Here is the snake! We've come across the monkeys! Are those elephant noises I hear?), rather than bringing them all back as part of a well devised plot. The film develops well in the village with Mowgli recounting his jungle life. Once the village is left, however, you feel pushed along. The most forced of the whole group are the buzzards, who go from being significant in the first film to basically showing up here and watching Lucky, the new vulture addition, ham it up. I guess Col. Hathi's wife knew better. She doesn't even appear in this one!
The weak plot aside, there was something unusual for me in returning to these characters so many years later and seeing that they have not aged a bit....only in animation! Seeing this film from the 60s brought back with updated music, was enjoyable. Perhaps that is why the buzzards weren't really needed. Audiences of the first film would have been thinking "Ringo" during the buzzard scenes, here the Smash Mouths sing on the soundtrack. Some things just don't cross time well.
So... as a sequel the film is weak. But it is enjoyable to watch...on video. Some sequels are a waste even in the 99 cent bin (Beethoven 3, anyone?), while others are worth the sitting (Homeward Bound 2). Disney has given us a sequel designed for a family with little kids, but its theatrical run shows a greed that does not fit well with the reputation for quality that Walt Disney was given.
ps. We watched the film here in Argentina, so it was in Spanish. Lucky is presented as a doof whose Spanish has the thickest North American accent I've ever heard. Hmmmm.
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