The Jungle Book will make you feel like a kid again and make you believe in the fantastical, even if just for a couple of hours. You will see talking animals and will never think twice, you will see a young boy running through the jungle, hopping through trees, and you will never balk. Nothing could be more real.
Despite what your eyes and heart may think, Jon Favreau‘s big budget Disney movie was filmed entirely in an L.A. studio. The only “real” element of The Jungle Book is Mowgli, played by newcomer Neel Sethi in his Hollywood debut. And what a debut! The fact that he was interacting with hand puppets and a blue screen most of the time is simply astonishing, especially for a 12-year old with no acting experience. He certainly holds his own as the star of the movie and looks every bit the part of Mowgli, the young boy raised by wolves in the thick of the jungle.
The all-star cast providing the voices for the animals includes: Bill Murray (Baloo), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Christopher Walken (King Louie), Lupita Nyong’o (Raksha), and Scarlett Johansson (Kaa). Each actor was absolutely perfect for their character and brought them, literally, to life in such a way that did justice to the original movie. You might be one of the lucky ones who giggles like a child when Bill Murray breaks into a subdued version of “The Bare Necessities” and Christopher Walken sings “I Wanna Be Like You” in his universally recognizable voice. It was a necessary risk to add a couple of the original musical numbers and it paid off, especially for the adults who were hoping to hear at least a couple notes.
There’s no doubt that The Jungle Book will appeal to almost everybody, from young to old; from a child who has never seen The Jungle Book (1967) to the adult who remembers seeing it in theatres. The only warning is that some scenes might be too intense or scary for really young children, and if you’re terrified of snakes you might want to close your eyes when you hear Scarlett Johansson’s husky voice.
One thing is for certain, Jon Favreau has an immense appreciation and respect for both the 1967 Disney classic and Rudyard Kipling’s stories; and it shows. The Jungle Book is 21st century magic.
The Jungle Book has grossed nearly $800M worldwide since it’s release on April 15, 2016.
Watch the official trailer here:
Watch this truly remarkable behind the scenes featurette: