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JUNGLE BOOK 2 (2003)

After being raised by jungle animals Mowgli (voice of Haley Joel Osment) has been adopted by a human family. Torn between the rules of village life and the freedoms he enjoyed during his upbringing, Mowgli longs to see his old family again. Although forbidden to enter the jungle Mowgli leaves the village and reunities with his best friend Baloo The Bear (John Goodman). The celebration is cut short by the arrival of nasty man-eating tiger Shere Khan (Tony Jay) who is planning to take his revenge on Mowgli for a past humiliation. Fearing for Mowgli's safety, village girl Shanti (Mae Whitman) follows him into the jungle but meets perils of her own. 

Review by Richard Kuipers:
Disney has tarnished its reputation by releasing this second-rate animation in cinemas. From the opening frames it's clear that the sequel to the company's frequently re-released 1967 classic has the production values of a direct to video offering and not what we expect in a big screen offering. Minus end credits, Jungle Book 2 runs a scant 66 minutes and completely lacks the flourishes of A-list Disney product like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. 

Audiences are being asked to pay full price for a cut-rate cash-in and that's bad form from the trusted name in family entertainment. Apart from recycling The Bare Necessities no less than four times (the song itself is borrowed from the first film) this has no soul or spirit and the narrative contains none of the complexity that should inspire wonder in children just like Rudyard Kipling's original stories did in another age. 

What's presented here is just a bunch of animals, some of whom are one-dimensionally good like the wise panther Bagheera - who is given almost nothing to say - or goofy like Baloo. Others like Shere Khan and the snake Kaa aren't even remotely frightening. Children love to be scared just a little but they won’t find much to gasp about in their post-screening discussions in the playground. The romance between Mowgli and Shanti is at least decently presented, Phil Collins cracks a couple of good gags as the leader of a British vulture quartet and the W-I-L-D number (by Australian composer Paul Grabowsky and Lorraine Feather) is a toe-tapper but there's no depth (even for kids) in this disappointing return to the jungle. On vhs or DVD Jungle Book 2 should keep youngsters entertained for one or two viewings but it's simply not up to scratch as an auditorium attraction.

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JUNGLE BOOK 2 (2003) (G)

VOICES: Animated. Voices of Anders Byström, Phil Collins, Jim Cummings, Connor Funk, John Goodman, Tony Jay, Bob Joles, Haley Joel Osment

PRODUCER: Mary Thorne

DIRECTOR: Steve Trenbirth

SCRIPT: Karl Geurs (novel The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling)


EDITOR: Christopher K. Gee, Peter Lonsdale

MUSIC: Joel McNeely (songs Paul Grabowsky, Lorraine Feather)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Art Direction: Michael Peraza Jr.

RUNNING TIME: 72 minutes



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