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Bruce Reitherman, Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, Louis Prima, George Sanders ... see more see more... , Sterling Holloway , J. Pat O'Malley , Verna Felton , Clint Howard , Chad Stuart , Lord Tim Hudson , John Abbott , Ben Wright , Darlene Carr , Digby Wolfe

The final animated feature produced under the supervision of Walt Disney is a lively neo-swing musical, loosely based upon the tales of Rudyard Kipling. The story takes place in a tropical jungle wher... read more read more...e people are conspicuously absent. But one day Bagheera the Panther (voice of Sebastian Cabot) discovers a baby in the wreck of a boat. Feeling pity on the child, Bagheera takes him to be raised with the wolves. Ten years later, the child has grown into Mowgli (voice of Bruce Reitherman). Mowgli discovers that his life is in danger because of the return to the area of Shere Khan the Tiger (voice of George Sanders), whose hatred of humans is such that Mowgli faces certain death if discovered. Bagheera agrees to transport Mowgli to the human village, where he will be safe from Shere Khan. Along the way to the village, night falls and Mowgli and Bagheera almost succumb to the man-eating snake Kaa (voice of Sterling Holloway). Escaping Kaa's coils, they run into the lock-step military elephant band of Colonel Hathi (voice of J. Pat O'Malley). Afterwards, Mowgli, who doesn't want to be sent to the human village, runs away from Bagheera and meets up with the fun-loving Baloo the Bear (voice of Phil Harrris). With both Bagheera and Baloo to protect him, Mowgli is saved from several more life-threatening situations -- including a barber-shop quartet of vultures, the crazed King Louie of the Apes (voice of Louis Prima), and Shere Khan himself -- before making it to the village of humans. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

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85% liked it

34 critics

DVD Release Date: February 11, 2014

Stats: 23,475 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (23,475)

  • June 20, 2013
    Among all the meagre offerings of the Wolfgang Reitherman era, The Jungle Book is often held up as the exception to the general rule. Coming at a time when Disney was playing it safe and looking to cut costs, its fans will argue that it is every bit as fun and entertaining as the... read more classic films that preceded it. But while The Sword in the Stone gets a pass on entertainment value if nothing else, the same can't be said for this film, which more than anything else is shapeless and a little boring.

    This last remake will no doubt spawn a litany of angry voices, accusing me of sacrilege and taking things too seriously. Some may even go so far as saying that I shouldn't worry so much, since it's a children's film, and therefore not worthy of detailed analysis by me or anyone else. It's not intended to be a proper adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's novels, and if it succeeds in being fun then that is all that matters.

    I've already dealt with the "It's a children's film" argument in my review of Atlantis: The Lost Empire - in short, I disagree with it to the point of utmost contempt. As for the other arguments, I am just as capable of having fun as the next viewer - and I seek out fun in films more often than you might presume. I get no cruel pleasure from bashing Disney's weaker efforts, even when, as with Atlantis, I feel that I'm morally justified. On the contrary, I want every Disney film to be good, and when their highs are so high, it makes any low feel all the more disappointing.

    I've also made clear my reservations towards Reitherman as a director, and how the various shortcuts he makes within the animation more often than not compromise the quality of the film. In fact I've talked about it so much that the sensible thing would be to take it for granted, pointing any newcomers to my older reviews and moving on to something more interesting. Unfortunately, we need to address this a little more, since all the things I previously highlighted are in abundance in The Jungle Book.

    First and foremost, the reuse of footage from scene to scene is near-constant and completely blatant. Bagheera's runs, Kaa's falls from the treetops, the marching elephants, even Shere Khan's head tilts - all of them are established at the characters' first appearance and then repeated without even the slightest attempt to cover it up. In The Sword in the Stone it was possible to forgive this, since the film was funny enough to make the rough edges feel charming, but here it's so obvious that it dents our ability to suspend disbelief.

    Like The Sword in the Stone, the animation is pale and scruffy, with the characters models having broad outlines and movement being much more in easily repeatable strokes than the movements in Sleeping Beauty or 101 Dalmatians. The colour scheme is very flat, with the Xeroxing technique lacking the bright, richly textured colours available to animators in the Technicolor era. And the film has a terrible tendency to shake the composition to hide where frames have been reused - a technique that's used far too often and doesn't work in throwing us off the scent.

    The next big disappointment with The Jungle Book is its story. Kipling's original stories are narratively interesting, being positioned somewhere between Aesop's Fables and early adventure stories like King Solomon's Mines (from which we eventually get Indiana Jones). They are also of historical significance, partly due to their context British Empire literature, but also due to their adoption by the early Boy Scout Movement. Even if not all the details of the stories were retained, stories of animals interacting with humans and exploring moral problems are always packed with potential.

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of Kipling's stories are either bowdlerised or completely disregarded by Disney. What we end up with is an anodyne road movie, with the plot revolving entirely around Mowgli's journey to the Man Village and the various characters he meets on his way. Aside from this being a lot less interesting than the original stories, it also gives us a film with more characters than the story has any use for, and that in turn makes what there is of a story feel baggy and drawn out.

    Because the original Jungle Book was a collection of short stories, any successful film version should either focus on one particular story, or else find some way of joining them together. This version is mainly based in the first story, 'Mowgli's Brothers', adding in the encounters with Kaa from 'Kaa's Hunting'. But despite the best efforts of the writers (including Ken Anderson of Cinderella fame), it still feels like a series of episodes, in which characters turn up, do little and then disappear for quite a while.

    The only real up-side to this episodic quality is that it shows off the voice acting. The actors don't have a great deal to work with, or much room for manoeuvre, but some of the choices are still sublime. Phil Harris was a great choice to play Baloo, bringing his radio experience to the table and wringing the full potential out of most of his lines. Sterling Holloway is very good as Kaa, playing completely against type and adding the character's now-characteristic lisp. Best of all is George Sanders, playing entirely but thrillingly to type as the smarmy yet villainous Shere Khan.

    The music in The Jungle Book has become one of the main parts of its appeal. Admittedly it doesn't have much competition from within the Reitherman era - in fact, it's the last musical animated feature Disney made until Oliver & Company two decades later. Some of the songs are perfectly fine, such as 'Bare Necessities' and 'Trust In Me', but even the best songs aren't as lyrically impressive or musically complex as we've come to expect. Neither 'My Own Home' or 'Colonel Hathi's March' are particularly memorable, while 'I Wan'na Be Like You' is just overrated.

    Disney has often been accused of sanitising darker works to avoid alienating younger audiences. Even beyond the narrative changes made, Reitherman consistently opts for a lighter, breezier tone, to such an extent that the moments that should be somewhat scary lack dramatic impact. The final encounter between Mowgli and Shere Khan starts very well, when the characters are just talking with either silence or very minimal music. But as soon as George Bruns' jazzy score starts up, Khan becomes more of a joke. His comeuppance becomes a source of humour rather than a moment of catharsis, even with Baloo's predicament.

    The one aspect of The Jungle Book which has often attracted critical ire comes near the end, when Mowgli meets the young girl fetching water at the edge of the Man Village. Having never seen a girl before, he is instantly smitten and follows her singing into the village, never to return. Baloo and Bagheera survey their man-cub's fate, then promptly dance off into the jungle as the film ends.

    At this juncture you might expect some kind of damning indictment of Disney sexism, sexualising this young girl by painting her as a siren. You'd have similar cause to complain that the monkeys in the film are racist, being voiced by black actors and depicted as lazy, thuggish layabouts. But ultimately The Jungle Book is too boring and innocuous to be worth getting upset about. It's too forgettable and flat to justify any emotion reaction beyond indifference - and that is perhaps the most damning criticism one can give.

    The Jungle Book is a big disappointment which fails to capture the life and lustre of both its source material and its predecessors. For all the good moments which find the actors sounding off well, or the odd decent musical number, it ultimately feels like a collection of bits which have no real reason to associate or progress to the chosen conclusion. In short, it is indicative of the Disney wilderness years, being far too safe, far too pale, and far too boring.
  • December 3, 2011
    This is one of the Disney films that I used to watch several times as I was a kid. In fact it was a personal favorite of mine growing up, and is actually what I think, the best Disney animated feature along with The Lion King. The Jungle Book is a solid fun family film filled wit... read moreh comedy and is the type of film anyone of all ages will enjoy. The film contains some memorable characters and is simply a classic. This is a film that brings lots of memories from my childhood, and when I think of The Jungle Book, it brings back the good memories. This is a great film with great voice talents. This is a highly entertaining film that will definitely appeal to anyone looking for a fun film to watch. This is the perfect family oriented film. I very much enjoyed this film, and is for me, a personal favorite from Disney. This is a film that the entire family will enjoy. The Jungle Book is one of the funnier Disney films, and that's quite a statement because they've made very funny films over the course of the studios existence. This film is a classic. The Jungle Book is an essential Disney film to watch this film will always bring good memories from my childhood. And it is one of the best films that Disney has produced over the years, and it remains a solid, entertaining film that will appeal to people of all ages.
  • June 24, 2011
    A childhood favourite and a classic!
  • March 5, 2011
    A childhood favorite
  • December 13, 2010
    the songs are great, the animation is great, the comedy is great, and the characters are great my favorite being Kaa the snake mainly for being voiced by the voice of Winnie the Pooh Sterling Holloway
  • December 11, 2010
    This movie has a great cast and a good story and kids will really enjoy it, but it's not my favourite Disney movie personally. There are some good songs, though.
  • September 8, 2010
    one of the best Disney film of all time. the whole film is above what a ok Disney film has,
  • July 21, 2010
    i hate this movie. D
  • May 3, 2010
    another disney classsic thats funny, enjoyable and has brilliant songs that get stuck in your head all day long!
    very entertaining animated classic well worth the watch!!
  • fb733768972
    January 23, 2010
    A movie with heart! A film that nobody should dislike!

Critic Reviews

Variety Staff
November 3, 2009
Variety Staff, Variety

The standout song goes to Harris, a rhythmic 'Bare Necessities' extolling the value of a simple life and credited to Terry Gilkyson. Full Review

Dave Kehr
March 10, 2008
Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

A serious disappointment, recommended only for inveterate Disney fans and very young people. Full Review

September 30, 2006
Time Out

It's also got great knockabout visual gags, mercifully little cutey-poo sentiment, and reasonable songs. Full Review

Matt Brunson
April 18, 2014
Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing

Here's yet another animated feature from Disney's mostly barren stretch between its two golden ages, a film that plays better in nostalgia-tinged memories than in the here-and-now. Full Review

Bill Chambers
March 10, 2014
Bill Chambers, Film Freak Central

Disney's grandniece recently cast aspersions on the picture, but I don't share her pessimism. Full Review

Dustin Putman
February 24, 2014
Dustin Putman,

[Blu-ray Review] Looking and sounding like a million bucks (or more) and full of exhaustive bonus content new and vintage, the Blu-ray release of "The Jungle Book" is a must-own for anyone who loves a... Full Review

Keith Phipps
February 14, 2014
Keith Phipps, The Dissolve

Every one of the bunch is memorable, and each plays gracefully into the action of the film. Full Review

James Plath
February 8, 2014
James Plath, Movie Metropolis

Disney had perhaps the clearest vision of any creative talent in Hollywood, and 'The Jungle Book' is the last project with which he was personally involved. Though he died before it hit theaters, he w... Full Review

David Nusair
July 13, 2011
David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews

...a sporadically entertaining yet hopelessly uneven bit of animated filmmaking. Full Review

Michael Scheinfeld
January 2, 2011
Michael Scheinfeld, Common Sense Media

Jaunty animation meets jazzy songs in Disney classic. Full Review

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    • Mowgli the Man Cub: Run? Why should I run?
    • Shere Khan the Tiger: Could it be possible that you don't know who I am?
    • Mowgli the Man Cub: I know you alright. You're Shere Khan.
    • Mowgli the Man Cub: Precisely. Then you should also know that everyone runs from Shere Khan.
  • The jungle is JUMPIN'!
  • The Vultures were originally going to be voiced by The Beatles, but John Lennon said 'no'.
    Their mop-top haircuts & Liverpuddlian accents are a tribute to the Fab Four.
  • 'Baloo' means bear in Hindi.
  • The last film personally overseen by Walt Disney.

The Jungle Book : Watch Free on TV

The Jungle Book Trivia

  • "Now I'm the king of the swingers oh the jungle VIP" Name the movie this line is from.  Answer »
  • In The jungle book what is the name of monkey that is king.  Answer »
  • What Characters sing "That's what friends are for" in the Jungle Book?  Answer »
  • #I'm the king of the swingers oh, the jungle V.I.P, I hit the top and had to stop and thats whats a-bothering me...# This song is from what Disney film?  Answer »

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