There’s only one human actor in Jon Favreau’s new film “The Jungle Book,” an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s beloved story, but the carefully selected voice actors allow the movie to brim with humanity all the same. Faithful to the 1967 Disney original, the “Jungle Book” reboot (currently in theaters) tells the tale of Mowgli, an orphaned boy raised by animals in the Indian wilderness. The animals refer to Mowgli’s human qualities (like drinking from a cup) as “tricks,” but they still love him. Except Shere Khan the Bengal tiger, who wants to kill him.
Nine stoned thoughts I had while watching:1. This movie is about dogs being better than cats, isn’t it? Shere Khan is sly and nasty, whereas the wolf pack is sweet and noble. As a cat lover, I’m a bit offended.
2. I like the idea of jungle animals worshipping elephants and thinking they’re old gods. Elephants are badass. They mourn their dead. I would totally worship them.
3. There’s a scene in which a seemingly innocent creature manipulates Mowgli by preying on the universal human inability to resist a cute lil’ animal. It’s funny, but would Mowgli retain that instinct, brought up as an animal himself?
4. Baloo the bear is both a nice guy AND a con artist. It’s cool to show that complexity. He uses Mowgli to get honey, but also instills a spirit of invention and individuality in the boy. “They’re not tricks – it’s the Mowgli way!” he tells his human friend.
5. I changed my mind about the dogs vs. cats thing. Bagheera the panther is wise and kind, so Disney is suggesting cats can be good or bad, depending. I’m OK with that.
6. I normally hate CGI; it’s an imitation of life, and a poor one at that. It will never fool us. But the animation of Shere Khan is stunning, and the scene when he’s terrorizing four wolf puppies in front of their mother nearly gave me a heart attack.
7. Would you have sex with Scarlett Johansson as Kaa the snake? It’s creepy-sexy. The snake is super seductive because she wants to eat Mowgli, but I feel like most men would probably fall for that in a heartbeat.
8. The animation of the behemoth monkey King Louie is also great. He has saggy boobs, giant swollen facial glands and Christopher Walken’s voice, which is the weirdest and most perfect combo.
9. There are too many chase scenes. I want more sequences of joyful leisure, like Mowgli and Baloo floating down the river belting out “Bare Necessities.” Pretty sure Baloo has smoked some jungle herb in his day (he’s voiced by Bill Murray, after all).