So, one more Disney animated film left for my Disney-a-thon. The Jungle Book isn’t the first or the last adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s stories of the feral child Mowgli, but it is undoubtedly the most remembered. This also is one of, if not, the first films in the Disney animated canon to feature actual named actors as the voice talent, rather than a cast of unknowns; though aside from George Sanders as the tiger Shere Khan, I didn’t recognize any of the other names myself. But this is an animated film; the names aren’t really that important.
It’s the story and the entertainment value that’s the important parts. As for the story, well, ask anyone about Disney’s Jungle Book movie, and more likely than not, all they’ll be able to say is the ‘Bare Necessities’ song, and after rewatching the film for this review, I can say, I don’t blame them. It’s essentially that the film is pretty much unmemorable; none of the scenes or storylines have that much of an impact, and after it was over I went through it in my head, and realized I could barely place half the movie. This isn’t extraneous material like Pinocchio; the story is essentially a conflict of interest between Bagheera’s (and eventually Baloo’s) want to protect Mowgli by sending him to the “man village” and Mowgli’s own want to stay in the jungle he’s known all his life, so everything that comes up in the film is an obstacle for either one of these wants and needs to be overcome. Everything there does serve a purpose; it’s just so blase with how it meanders through its own story that we don’t become all that engrossed as a result. Sure, it’s entertaining, but in an empty, vapid way. Still, given that it’s designed to be a children’s film, I guess I can forgive it somewhat.
Frankly, I don’t really know what this one is doing on the list. Maybe because it was the last feature overseen by Walt Disney before his death, or its status as one of the highest grossing films of all time (adjusted for inflation). Neither of these things, in my own opinion, warrant a coveted spot in the list (unless it’s literally the highest grossing film, like Gone with the Wind, Titanic, or Avatar), and the film itself, while entertaining, isn’t overly so, enough to make the statement that one must see it before they die. Still, though I don’t agree with its placement, I wasn’t too disappointed even having to rewatch this one; plus, the film is short, so you don’t have to spend too much time with it. If you haven’t seen this, and are interested in some good old-fashioned wholesome Disney fun, this’ll do nicely. Just don’t expect the Citizen Kane of animated movies from this, though that may be putting it a bit starkly.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10