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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Jungle Book is a Disney classic with positive messages for kids about friendship and finding family in unexpected places. There are some scary and/or upsetting scenes, such as the final battle between Baloo (a bear) and Shere Khan (a tiger), but there's also lots of humor and catchy songs.
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What's the story?
The 17th Disney animated feature and the last film supervised by Walt himself, THE JUNGLE BOOK is a charmer. Based on Rudyard Kipling's story, the movie tells the tale of Mowgli, the "man cub" found by benevolent panther Bagheera, who tucks the baby boy safely away with a family of wolves. Mowgli grows up happy, living in the jungles of India. But the jungle won't be safe for him once the tiger Shere Khan finds out here's there. So wise Bagheera (voiced by Sebastian Cabot) begins leading Mowgli toward civilization -- whether he wants to go or not. Along the way the pair encounters hypnotic snake Kaa (Sterling Holloway), an army of elephants, and, much to Bagheera's dismay, Baloo the bear (Phil Harris), a lovable "jungle bum" who temps Mowgli with his laid-back, "Bare Necessities" life. But when the two ditch Bagheera, life isn't all fun and games. Crazy orangutans (including their jazzy king, Louis Prima) run off with Mowgli and Shere Khan is hot on his trail. It'll take the unlikely team of Bagheera and Baloo to keep Mowgli safe.
Is it any good?
Kipling's classic story has been thoroughly Disney-fied, but it remains a lively and engrossing adventure with jaunty animation and delightful jazz-inspired songs. The very catchy tunes and expert voice cast deliver lots of laughs. A perennial favorite, The Jungle Book teems with lush atmosphere, lovable jungle animals, and toe-tapping song favorites like "The Bare Necessities" and "I Wanna Be Like You." Walt Disney's personal touch of cheerfully blending humor, heart, and music in a strong story dealing with life choices, is what elevates this movie. It's justifiably considered a classic despite the modest animation, which is pleasant but relatively streamlined in comparison to earlier Disney masterpieces.
The voice cast, many of whom were 1960s stars, adds considerably to the enjoyment. As the boisterous Baloo, Harris is a standout (he later provided the voice of the rascally O'Malley in The Aristocats). Memorable performances are also turned in by scat-singing Louis Prima as King Louie of the Apes, Disney veteran Sterling Holloway (the original Winnie the Pooh, and the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland) as the hissing Kaa, and Sanders, whose every syllable deliciously drips with venom. Watch this one with your kids and you'll soon "forget about your troubles and your strife" as you sing along with Baloo and Mowgli.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the music. What was your favorite song? What do Baloo's "Bare Necessities" song and "Hakuna Matata" from The Lion King have in common?
How does Baloo's love of good music get him into trouble?
Why does Bagheera worry when he finds out Baloo and Mowgli have teamed up?
- In theaters: October 18, 1967
- On DVD or streaming: October 2, 2007
- Cast: Louis Prima, Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot
- Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Music and Sing-Along, Wild Animals
- Character Strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 78 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
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