Very loosely based on writings by Rudyard Kipling, this story, set in the jungles of India, follows the life of Mowgli, the boy raised by wolves. When word reaches the pack that the dreaded tiger Shere Kahn is returning to the area, they decide they must return Mowgli to the nearest man village as soon as possible. Shere Kahn hates humans because they're hunters/animal killers (honestly, can you blame him for feeling that way?) and will surely kill Mowgli on sight. Not to mention endanger the pack. The wolves recruit a prissy panther to escort Mowgli to his destination, but the kid soon befriends Baloo, a bumbling and somewhat clueless bear with an "hakuna matata" approach to life (though it will be decades before Disney uses this term to refer to a carefree attitude). Before finally arriving at the man village and being charmed away from his jungle friends by a girl who, I felt, was much MUCH too flirty for her age, Mowgli has a run-in with a fire-obsessed orangutan, a sneaky snake, a heard of goofy elephants, and a quartet of silly birds of prey with Beatles haircuts and accents. And, of course, he meets up with Shere Kahn...and defeats the poor kitty much too easily by tying a burning branch to his tail (am I the only one who felt sorry for the tiger?).
Although I was pretty much raised on Disney films, I somehow missed out on this one as a child. Of course I knew Baloo the Bear from Tailspin, but never saw The Jungle Book until my husband, shocked at this disclosure, recommended I watch it.
I was NOT impressed. At all. The events that made up the story were far too random, and I didn't much care for any of the characters. Also, Disney's placing of animals in NON-native regions tripped my common sense meter far too often for me to even enjoy the so-called plot. It's obvious the story is set in the jungles of India, where you'll find tigers, monkeys, elephants, and dangerous snakes. Of course I'd have to double check this, but I'm pretty sure there are NO wolf packs in this area of the world. Ditto for the sort of bear Baloo seems to be. Also, at one point Shere Kahn is hunting what appears to be the sort of deer you'd find in the forests (and crossing the roads) of Michigan. Dear Disney. You get an F in zoology.
I realize this is Disney, and Disney has been known to take quite a lot of liberties with their animated films: Changing storylines completely, talking/singing animals, people with magical powers, etc. This has never bugged me before, but for some reason those liberties taken with The Jungle Book really irked me almost to the point of "I can't watch this." I saw it through, but overall, the film left a bad taste in my mouth.
All I know is I'm going to have to watch Lilo and Stitch at least 10 times on repeat (and maybe a couple showings of Frozen) to get the ick of The Jungle Book out of my head. That is one movie I wish I'd never watched. --AJB