The Jungle Book (2016) Parent Review

Assuming your kids are old enough to not be too frightened, there are some great messages about the strength of working together despite differences.

Overall B+

Disney's version of The Jungle Book comes to the big screen as a live-action movie. Once again you may follow the story of Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a boy adopted by a wolves, and his unusual journey to manhood.

Violence C+
Sexual Content A
Profanity A
Substance Use A

The Jungle Book (2016) is rated PG for some sequences of scary action and peril.

Movie Review

For a second time Disney tackles the task of adapting Rudyard Kipling’s classic novel The Jungle Book for the big screen. In their 1967 version the studio used brightly colored animation and snappy tunes to tell the tale of a young orphan found alone in the jungle, rescued by a concerned panther and raised by a pack of wolves. This time around the story is being presented in live-action, with Neel Sethi playing the man-cub Mowgli, and a herd of humans using their best technical wizardry to bring to life a plethora of wild creatures. Their creative efforts are nothing short of spectacular!

Partly because of the realism, and also thanks to a more action packed script, this 2016 production hits the ground running and seldom stops to catch its breath between scenes of peril.

The biggest reason Mowgli is in constant danger is Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba). This vengeful tiger informs the wolves that he will no longer tolerate the boy’s presence amongst the beasts and threatens to kill members of the pack if they will not surrender him. Realizing the only way to keep the man-cub safe is to return him to his own kind, the fatherly panther Bagheera (voice of Ben Kingsley) offers to escort the youngster to the closest man village. So after a tearful goodbye to his adaptive mother (voice of Lupita Nyong’o) the two begin their dangerous journey.

Mowgli encounters many challenges along the way, such as separation from his protector, stampeding buffalo, the deadly embrace of Kaa the python (voice of Scarlett Johansson), kidnapping by monkeys and threats from an orangutan (voice of Christopher Walken) who calls himself King Louie, but behaves more like a mafia boss. He also faces some natural disasters (drought, floods, mudslides) and manmade hazards (a forest fire). Although moments of humor are included, like an opportunist bear named Baloo (voice of Bill Murray) who befriends the tike for his usefulness in getting honey, the life-endangering sequences will likely be too intense for little ones.

If that describes your cubs, you may want to stick to the classic Disney cartoon until they are a bit older. For more mature audiences, who hopefully won’t be terrified by the scary characters and depictions of fighting, injury, and implied deaths, there are some great messages about the strength of working together despite differences. And thanks again to those amazing visual effects, this will be a thrill-filled rollercoaster jungle ride.

Directed by Jon Favreau. Starring Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson. Running time: 106 minutes. Theatrical release April 17, 2016. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Jungle Book (2016) here.

The Jungle Book (2016) Parents Guide

The lead wolf reminds the pack that: “The strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack.” How does this relate to human relationships? How can the individual strengths of each member of a family or community contribute to the greater strength of the group?

Why does Baloo try to talk Mowgli into bending the rules? Why is Bagheera such a stickler for following them exactly? What are the pros and cons of their varying attitudes? Which advice has Mowgli’s best interests at heart?

Because he is human, Mowgli often has trouble doing things the way his adopted family does does them. Is it fair to expect him to be just like a wolf? What happens when each of the creatures learns to use their individual talents? How does this improve their contributions to the team effort?

How did you feel about the way this version of The Jungle Book used the music from the familiar 1967 cartoon? Do you think they used too much of it, or that they should have used more? Do you feel the songs add or detract from this new envisioning of Kipling’s story?

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