‘Jungle Book 2’ is a pale afterthought of the original

Are your kids budding critics? If not, then you might try this 2003 American-Australian animated feature, “The Jungle Book 2.” However, if you loved the original 1967 Walt Disney  movie “The Jungle Book” then pass on this 2003 afterthought.

The story begins promisingly enough with a shadow puppet show that brings us up to date on what happened in the 1967 movie, but then we find ourselves with Mowgli still in what approximates a red diaper and in a village that seems to be devoid of animals. He’s in the man village and telling the story to the girl who mesmerized him at the watering hole. Since he followed her to the village, he’s befriended a fat dorky boy, Ranjan (Connor Funk), and grows restless under the rules of Shanti’s father (John Rhys-Davies) who doesn’t allow his children to enter the jungle.

Baloo (now voiced by John Goodman) misses Mowgli and tries to find Mowgli (Haley Joel Osment), despite Baheera’s advice. Baloo, however, isn’t the only one looking for Mowgli. The tiger Shere Khan (Tony Jay) also wants to find Mowgli and even wanders into the village which mysteriously had no dogs or cats.

You can probably guess that there will be a happy ending and no one will die.

The animation has some hidden appearances of characters from other Disney features, but that won’t make up for this lack luster story and Asian and Asian American men might be a bit put off by the attractiveness of Shanti and her mother compared to Ranjan and his father.

You do get to hear John Goodman sing “The Bare Necessities” and the song is given three renditions. There’s also a short bit of “Colonel’s Hathi’s March” but none of this helps recapture the magic of the first movie. This will entertain only kids who aren’t very critical, but wouldn’t you rather raise your kids on classics?

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