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Maurice may look like a penguin - but he's a real tiger inside! Raised by a tigress, he's the clumsiest Kung-Fu master ever. Along with his friends, The Jungle Bunch, he intends to maintain order and justice in the jungle, as his mother did before him. But Igor, an evil koala, wants to destroy the jungle once and for all, helped by his army of silly baboons... The Jungle Bunch - to the rescue.
This jungle adventure doesn't have enough to go wild over
Despite my undying and lifelong love for animation and family films, 2017 has been very mixed when it comes to animation. There are gems like 'The LEGO Batman Movie', but for every gem there are atrocities like 'The Emoji Movie' (while not the cancer incarnate as described on release the film is near-irredeemable).
You can do with far worse than 'The Jungle Bunch', which actually looks like effort was put into it and compared to some of my recent animated viewings is while still not particularly good one of the better-faring ones. At the same time, there's far better. 'The Jungle Bunch' is watchable and there are good qualities, but there is not much to go wild over. It could have been far better with a more consistent tone and making the story simpler.
Starting with the good things, the animation is quite good. It's bright and colourful with some very nice attention to detail in the backgrounds and a real attempt to make the jungle world immersive, while the character designs are cute and much more natural than most animated films seen recently. The music is rousing and infectious while having a darker or emotional tone when needed.
There are some appealing characters here, particularly Miguel and Maurice (an easy to relate to protagonist). There is also some very amusing comedy, nice suspense and some charm, and that the film sticks to its roots is laudable and worthy of credit.
However, there are other elements that are misjudged. The lack of originality and general memorability can be forgiven, less forgivable is that the story is one that is likely to leave children and adults alike baffled, things could have been much simpler and the film should have done less which would have solved the issues with the story being over-complicated. 'The Jungle Bunch's' tone is also problematic, with some light comedy and cute characters juxtaposed with violent action and scenes that some may (emphasis on may) find confusing or too darkly upsetting what the film was trying to do and who it was aiming for is too often not clear and with too much of a disconnect, like it was trying too hard.
While there are amusing moments other gags do fall flat, mainly because some of it is awkward and childish. The villain Igor is only okay, not particularly memorable or interesting and his psychopathic nature unbalances the tone somewhat at times. Some of the dialogue doesn't quite make sense and like it was translated oddly, while the voice cast is just adequate, nobody is terrible (fairly competent actually) but there is not a lot that's remarkable and there is a lack of energy.
Overall, watchable but not enough to go wild over. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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