Talking Disney Episodes 1-4

Hey guys! I just wanted to let you know real quick that I have started a new podcast with  my friend Stanford. Each month we are selecting a Disney Canon film to talk about and give our analysis of its strengths and weaknesses. We just published our 4th entry in this podcast, and I’m proud of every last one of them. We are doing them in a random order to avoid the dead periods of a chronological rewatch. I would love your feedback as we are continually trying to improve. They are also available on Itunes and youtube at Rachel’s Reviews.

  1. Talking Cinderella

2. Talking The Great Mouse Detective- we had some technical difficulties in the last 20 minutes that impacted the sound quality but hopefully it is listenable

3. Talking Lady and the Tramp

4. Talking The Jungle Book

Pete’s Dragon Review (2016)

pete's dragon 8Of all the Disney remakes the one I was the most primed for was Pete’s Dragon. That might sound odd but I’m only a marginal fan of the original. In my opinion, the best remakes are films that are good but could use improvement. I don’t get very excited for remakes on films like Beauty and the Beast which are perfect. Anyway, that was my initial interest but quickly I realized this film was remake in name only. This might be concerning but then I read from director David Lowery and loved everything I heard.  Then the trailers came out and I really liked what I saw. Here is movie from an indy director with a passion for the project. It is also made for a low budget of $65 million which excites me greatly as I’d like to see Disney make more artistic low budget films.

So all of those factors led me to greatly look forward to Pete’s Dragon. So I went to see it today and I was not disappointed! This is a really special movie. It could probably be called Boy and the Dragon instead of Pete’s Dragon because it doesn’t have much to do with the original. It’s more like ET, Old Yeller, Black Stallion, Sounder or other movies for children about a boy and his dog/creature. These movies were sweet, emotional and helped teach children important life lessons. Such is the case with Pete’s Dragon. It is impeccably made and seems like something from another era.

pete's dragon2The story is pretty simple here and it’s not reinventing the wheel but it executes it so well and with such heart. It’s basically about Pete who is raised in the wild with his dragon Elliot. One day Pete gets discovered by Bryce Dallas Howard’s character and they try to help him. Various characters find out about Elliott and have different responses. It’s got an underlying message of faith and believing in things you don’t see (Elliott can be invisible after all).

The story may be simple but it will tug at your heart strings and make you feel really good.  All the performances are winning and warm- even the villain is understandable in his fear of the unknown. The child actors are particularly outstanding with Oaks Fegley reminding me of Jacob Trembley in Room. Robert Redford is great.  They are all great.

pete's dragon5If Disney is going to do these live action retellings this is the kind I want. I want a small film that is carefully made, not a lazy cash grab like Maleficent. This film does its own thing and tells a type of story I haven’t seen at the cinemas in a long time.

peteDirector David Lowery gives us incredible cinematography and the special effects on Elliott are first rate. It looked as good as anything we saw in The Jungle Book. I personally prefer this film to The Jungle Book because that film dragged when it tried to include songs and moments from the original. This is tight storytelling at its best.  In a lot of ways it reminded me of The Peanuts Movie. It is old fashioned and simple but full of heart. I loved both movies! There’s no attempt to modernize the characters or make them hip or cool. There’s no cell phones or lame attempts at humor. It is just a boy and his dragon just like Peanuts is about a boy and his dog.

Just everything they did I loved. Even the music I loved. I would encourage you to go see it on the big screen. Let Disney know that this is the type of movie they should be making. It is definitely one of my favorite films of the year and one that I can’t wait to show my nieces someday.

Here is my youtube review:  (I’m almost at a 1,000 subscribers on youtube!)

Jungle Book Review (2016)

(My Youtube review)

I know some of you have been wondering when I would finally post my Jungle Book review here on the blog. I posted my youtube review on Thursday night, so make sure you are subscribed to both the blog and channel because sometimes I don’t have time to update both at same time (I’m only one person friends 🙂 ).

I also wanted to wait to see the Jungle Book a second time on IMAX today before posting this review. I find on these big films it is often helpful to see the movie twice just to make sure my first read was accurate. I can confidently say I had the same experience in both screenings, so I’m pretty assured about my feelings.

It’s a good movie. I liked it a lot. Is it perfect? No but what movie is? Let’s talk about the pros and cons.

jungle-book-2016-posters-mowgli-balooThe biggest pro is the world building. Especially in IMAX 3D it was such an immersive experience.  I don’t think since Avatar I have been so immersed in a world at the theater. Maybe Gravity might be a good comparison. This is made all the more remarkable by the fact that it is all digitally created- down to the smallest blade of grass! Recently I have seen some terrible green screen work in films like In the Heart of the Sea or Gods of Egypt. Not here. There is no other word to describe the visuals but amazing. This is one to see on the big screen in 3D (which I almost never recommend).  Trust me on this one.

jungle book castThe voice talent is also all superb. Everyone from Bill Murray as Baloo, to Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, and Idris Elba as Shere Khan nails their characters.  It doesn’t feel like they are copying the iconic performances of the animated film either.  They are their own characters both in the script and vocal performances.

jungle book33I also really enjoyed the darker take on the story because even though I love the original animated film I admit it I like it mostly for the songs. This is more accurate to the book and particularly the beginning and ending I was really engaged with the story.

Mowgli is also a much more empathetic character (less whiny) than in the animated film.  Speaking of Mowgli, Neal Sethi is excellent in the part.  To think he did all his acting in a green screen room with puppets is remarkable, but even without that knowledge it’s a good, heartfelt performance.

THE JUNGLE BOOKNow to a few things that didn’t work for me. Both times I saw the film I got a little bit sleepy in the middle. Particularly in the sequences with Baloo and King Louie. I loved Bill Murray as Baloo but just the story kind of stalled there.  The King Louie stuff was almost one too many villains  and he was a little bit too mean for my taste. He’s supposed to be a smooth talker and he’s more of a bully in this film.

The other problem I had was in this section.  This is where we get both of the songs- Bear Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You. I love both of those songs in the animated musical but in this darker version (especially with King Louie) it didn’t really fit to have them break into song. It kind of took me out of the movie to see them singing all of the sudden.

Once Mowgli goes back to the wolves then it starts to pick back up again and I was engaged but I’ve seen it twice and both times that middle section lost my interest. Sorry…

jungle book2The other concern is that it is very scary. I know the animated film isn’t perfect but at least it is something you could watch with your entire family.  There is no way I could take my 6 and 7 year old nieces to this film. Shere Khan is very scary and attacks and kills characters. Louie is very scary and Kaa for her brief moments is scary. It kind of bums me out a little bit that it can’t be more of a family film but oh well.

Finally, there will be some people who will be annoyed at some stuff that is missing. Kaa is only in the film for about 5 minutes. The elephants are briefly seen. No vultures or their cheerful singing. I am willing to forgive and accept this new version but that may annoy some purists.

It might sound like I didn’t like the film which is untrue. I did like it. It was a magnificent experience, and I thought it was all done extremely well. But for me I still think Cinderella was better. It was more engaging from start to finish with no middle act lull.  Plus, it was more consistent in tone  throughout, and I just thought it was very magical. I also like that it is a family film that teaches a lovely message of kindness and courage to young girls. This film excludes those young kids because it is so scary.

But for a visual experience and for something new I definitely recommend seeing Jungle Book. I think you will really enjoy it.

Overall Grade B+

Jungle Book Trailer Review

Hey guys!  I got a chance to watch the Jungle Book trailer today and it was pretty good.  It wasn’t as jaw droppingly awesome as some people had led me to believe out of D23 but it  looked good.  Then again, the folks at D23 saw over 3 minutes of clips including clips of Christopher Walken as Louie and Bill Murray speaking as Baloo.

I’m really excited about this video because I’ve been conquering the behemoth that is Adobe Premiere.  Normally I pick up a software with ease, even software that is tough for others I get very quickly.  But Premiere has been very difficult for me to learn.  I used a few lectures from but mostly through playing around with it and not being intimidated.  Today’s breakthrough was I learned how to place still images within the video and I don’t even need a green screen!  Hooray!!! (I know it might sound like it but it was really hard!).

Here is the actual trailer.

I’m most hopeful they will change the ending because I hate that in the original animated film.  I am also curious how much of the music they are going to use.  I wonder if it will be like in Cinderella where she just hummed a few of the songs but they weren’t ever sung as musical numbers.   If they are going to move away from the  musical they must be embracing the book more because there isn’t a ton of story to the original film.  I just hope they get it right because they are playing with fire because ending aside I love the original film.

What did you guys think of the trailer?  Are you excited or cautiously optimistic like I am?

Babysitting and Disney

I had an interesting experience yesterday.  As most of you know I am single and all of my 5 nieces live many miles away 🙁 so my access to little kids in my life is relatively small.  Most of the time when I watch animation I have to guess what little kids like my nieces might think about it or ask them over the phone.  I wish they lived closer and I could take them with me to the theater but it is not the case!


Anyway, yesterday I got the opportunity to babysit for a friend at church who is moving and needed the kids to be away for the day so they could pack up and clean.  I don’t have that much living space in my house and unfortunately the weather did not cooperate for going to the park or outside activities so we were limited.  We did a lot of drawing.  The older girl who was 4 I think seriously drew for 4 hours maybe more.  It was impressive.

But there was still entertaining the youngest girl.  We made cookies and after that I didn’t have a whole lot else to do with little kids at my house besides stick on my Disney library.  Both of their reactions were surprising. And I know 4 movies is a bit garish for one day but my house is small and I really don’t have much to entertain kids beyond drawing and making cookies so go easy on me!

First thing we saw was a Mickey Mouse Christmas Movie called Mickeys Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse.  The cover looked bad but it actually was pretty good.  It is basically a whole bunch of shorts narrated by Mickey and Donald who is in a grumpy mood.  It was amazing how the minute Mickey came on screen the little girl lit up and gleefully said ‘It’s Mickey!’.  She loved the film. The final segment on Mickey’s Christmas Carol was a little much for her but she didn’t hate it.

Mickey's_Magical_ChristmasThen I put in Jungle Book thinking they would love it.  What surprised me is that both of them were not engaged at all.  I thought they would love the music and the simple story but I ended up drawing  with both as it played.  It didn’t capture either girls attention at all like Mickey.  Even Bare Necessities they were not into.


Then I put on Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  I figured it would be a slam dunk.  Again, surprisingly it didn’t really seem to hold their interest that much although they liked it better than Jungle Book.  Once Tigger came on the screen they liked it much better but before that it didn’t do much for them.


Then next I put on Frozen and I’m not kidding you the littlest girl was sitting with her back away from the TV when the opening chords to Frozen Heart came on and she lit up, a huge smile on her face.  Lana stopped drawing and came in the room right away.  They loved it! I love Frozen but I have never watched it with little girls and was amazed at how much they loved it. They knew every line to every song and sang along with gusto.  It was so much more to use the pun animated than any of the other choices I had played.  Call it recency bias but 2 little girls have spoken and Frozen was definitely the favorite.


Of the movies these children liked Frozen, Mickey’s Magical Christmas, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Jungle Book in that order.  Isn’t that surprising (I keep using that word but don’t know any other way to say it?).  Obviously this is only 2 kids and only 4 films but it was interesting to me nonetheless. What have you guys found in your families/kids in your life?  Like I said, I don’t have many in my life, so always interesting to see how actual kids respond to these films that I love. What do they like and does it ever surprise you?  Do they like things that you don’t? I’d love to know.

By the way Ben Affleck better watch out because my Dark Knight is pretty awesome… 😉

dark knight

Most Rewatchable Disney Canon Films

I will be seeing Big Hero 6 in the next 3 hours! Oh boy!

I was talking with a friend about Robin Hood and told her despite its problems it is one of the most rewatchable Disney’s.  What I mean by that is some movies are masterpieces but more weighty than the kind of thing I want to watch over and over again .

So what are those movies that I don’t mind repeat and frequent rewatching?  What’s the one that if I’m feeling like a movie that will entertain but not challenge me what do I pick?  I will add that I seem to have a unique high tolerance for repetition.  Other people tire of music, movies, food, books and I just don’t.  If it is something I like than I like it forever and repeatedly.

That said, some films like The Lion King I love but the intensity makes it tough to rewatch again and again.

I will also say that all of the Pixar movies with the exception of Brave (yes even Cars 2) are very rewatchable.   That’s why I’ve struggled to write up reviews of Pixar ,movies . How many ways can I say masterpiece?



Here goes in no particular order:

1.  Tangled- romantic comedies are probably my favorite genre to rewatch.  Tangled is funny, light, joyous, beautiful and a terrific villain.


2. Robin Hood- Maybe not the most ambitious Disney film but the humor makes it very rewatchable.  I love the voice performances and while it is a bit too long it is so much fun I enjoy rewatching it.

robin hood poster

3. Jungle Book- I hate the ending but other than that it is charming, funny, and the music is the true star.  It clips along so well with moments of real heart.  It is certainly up there in the movies I’ve seen the most.


4. Emperor’s New Groove- Again not the most ambitious but so full of laughs that it is great to rewatch.  Comedies are often the best for rewatching as we don’t always feel up to an intense emotional experience.

emperors poster

5. Aladdin- Another comedy makes the list but Aladdin is so much fun with the manic energy of Robin Williams.  Every time I see it I spot a new impression or moment I had missed before.  It will entertain both boys and girls equally and it is just one I wouldn’t mind watching on most any day.

aladdin poster

6. Frozen- I can see many of you roll your eyes because you are sick of this movie.  I repeat I don’t get sick of movies.  If I like them I like them and I like Frozen.  I could listen to the music all day and the humor is great, pacing a lot of fun and I just enjoy watching it most any day.


7. Lady and the Tramp- sweet, simple, romantic and with some tension and laughs.  Just something so pleasant I can’t think of a time when I would not enjoy watching it. As the poster says the ‘happiest motion picture’ from early Disney.


8. 101 Dalmatians- A lot of of humor with Cruella,  fun lively story, lots of great characters.  Dry with with Horace and Jasper.  Always at the top of my rewatch list.

101 dalmations

9. Lilo and Stitch- Probably my most emotional film on this list but it is so lovingly told and Lilo is such a real kid I am drawn to the picture despite my dislike for Stitch.  Maybe part of it is I find the Hawaiian local and music so relaxing it’s an easy rewatch for me..  It brings back many happy memories.

lilo and stitch poster

10. Mulan- Another movie with a lot of humor, romance, heart, and excitement.  Just thoroughly entertaining and not too deep or morose like other less rewatchable films.

Movie_poster_mulanHonorable Mentions- Beauty and the Beast although it feels a little long for a frequent rewatch, Little Mermaid because of my nostalgia for it, and Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which is probably the most rewatchable for little one’s.


Off to see Big Hero 6!!!!

Best Disney Villain Songs


I already did Best Villains  so in honor of Halloween it seemed appropriate to talk about some villain music.  Particularly my favorite villain songs.  Actually there aren’t as many as you’d think.  Classic villains like Lady Tremaine and Maleficent don’t have a villain songs.

Special Notice- Hellfire-  I could not put this on my list but I know everyone will ask about it.  I just can’t support a song that is openly supporting the rape and murder of a woman.  I’ve talked about it so much on the blog.  It crosses a line I am not comfortable with.  That said, it is very well sung and the animation is haunting, so for that reason I am honoring it as separate from my list.

So that said- my list.

10. Trust in Me- One of the first villain songs in any Disney film and it is close to an Adam and Eve type villain as Disney gives us.  Like the serpent in the Biblical story, Kaaa oils and slithers his way around the jungle, hypnotizing his victims with his beguiling song.  It is made all the more creepy by the fact it is Sterling Holloway, the voice of Winnie the Pooh claiming to be Mowgli’s best of friends.

9. Gaston- Perhaps the funniest villain song.  It’s a big pep talk for our town hero.  The fact that we know he wants to make our heroine unhappy at whatever cost gives it an eery undertone.

8. Heffalumps and Woozles- One of the spookiest moments of Disney.  We’ve got a true nightmare with all the minor chords and inflections of a haunted house song.  There is also always something creepy about toys like jack in the boxes.  Plus, they want to steal Pooh’s honey!   This song is especially effective when you think it is aimed at toddlers. It’s in every shape and size, size, SIZE!

7. Prince Ali Reprise- While a reprise and not a complete song it is very effective.  A joyous number from earlier in the film is now used to control and manipulate.  At this point in the story Jafar has total control of the Genie and everything else.  It all looks very bad for our heroes.

6. Mob Song- An extremely chilling song because it’s an entire town taking on our heroes that are basically household items.  How is this going to work?  As the music escalates the tension gets tighter and stronger until we feel real panic, like a mob would feel.  The animation is striking and captures the darkness and increasing madness of Gaston and the crowd.

5. Savages- Perhaps the most thoughtful Disney villain song and it is the redemption of Pocahontas which made my bottom 10 Disney movies.  It is a cliche ridden historical travesty but in this song they reach some emotional truth.  Some criticize it for the way it stereotypes people but that’s the whole point of the song.  Both sides have rationalized why the other is the villain and needs to be done away with.  It’s very profound and beautifully drawn and sung.

4. World’s Greatest Criminal Mind- Brought in a series of villain songs in movies that would go nearly uninterrupted for the next decade of Disney movies.  Ratigan is a hilarious villain with Vincent Price as one of the best voices ever. The fact he kills a mouse for calling him a rat when his name is Ratigan is so funny.  Kind of like Gaston it is a funny villain song but very effective.  Ratigan is the closest Disney has ever gotten to an over-the-top Bond villain and I love it!

3. Mother Knows Best- As far as straight singing this is probably my favorite Disney villain song and one of my favorite songs.  Donna Murphey is amazing as Mother Gothel.  It is Sondheim level quality.  It takes the nurturing of motherhood and uses it to control and manipulate a child.  Is there anything colder than that?  It’s so effective.  I just love it!

2. Poor Unfortunate Souls- One of the most brilliant voice casting in Disney history.  Pat Carroll gives Ursula a mix of a truck driver and a drag queen.  She is on full saleswoman mode and uses every sweet and conniving method she can muster to tempt Ariel into her web. She would have said she’d cured cancer if it would have gotten her the ending she wants.  That’s my kind of villain.  The animation is brilliant and funny and I love that ursula is the only octopus we see aside from a brief glimpse of one in Under the Sea.  There is nobody who looks like her.  She is blackness, overweight, with red lipstick.  Got to like that!

1. Be Prepared-  In a movie where almost nobody did their own singing (even Broadway star Matthew Broderick didn’t),  it is especially compelling Jeremy Irons sang Be Prepared.  It is as close as Disney gets to a Hitler villain.  He even has Nazi hyenas.  He oils and defines his plan dripping with disdain for everyone including his brother.  He is a sociopath who has no guilt throughout the movie for any of his choices.  All he cares about is himself to the detriment of the entire kingdom.

Movie 19: Jungle Book

1967_80sRR_JUNGLEBOOKToday we get to talk about one of my all time favorites- The Jungle Book.  I just watched it and it is every bit as bright and colorful as I remember.

Released in 1967 Jungle Book is the last film Walt Disney produced before his untimely death of lung cancer in 1966.  He didn’t get to view the final product but did see some nearly completed drafts.

Just a quick bit of trivia.  My friend Jim has studied lemurs and monkeys in Madagascar, so I asked him whether there are bears in the jungle.  He said not in India.  These type of bears are in Vietnam and there are no apes!  It’s obviously not a realistic picture but I just thought that was funny.


It is interesting to compare Jungle Book to Sword in the Stone, which didn’t work for me.  The same xerox method was used but this picture is much more pleasant to watch.

If you recall, one of my issues with Sword in the Stone is that everything looked blue and gray.  In Jungle Book we get the thick outlines from the sketch xerox style which isn’t my favorite but at least it is light and colorful.

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But even the brightness wouldn’t save the picture on its own.  The sharp writing and the music make it work so well.

According to the dvd extras Walt asked the storyboard writers if they had read Rudyard Kipling’s book The Jungle Book.  They said ‘no’ and he said ‘good because we are doing it our own way’.

I don’t know if as an older man Disney grew weary of the darker themes in Pinocchio, Dumbo and Bambi but the later films of his life are much lighter and comedic in tone . He told the animators to take the dark scenes of the book and ‘turn them on their ear.  Have fun with them’.

Originally Terry Gilkyson was hired to write the songs but Walt felt they were too dark in tone, so all of the songs except for bare necessities were turned over to the Sherman Brothers.

balooSherman Brothers had written Mary Poppins and Sword in the Stone for Disney at this point and Jungle Book really shows their versatility.  They could easily go from broadway style in Mary Poppins to swing music and jazz for Jungle Book.

The idea for the jazz feel came partly from Gilkyson’s song but also from thinking about the monkeys (who are much darker in the book).  What do they do all day?  They swing!  So the king of the monkeys had to also be the king of the swingers.

monkeysJungle Book is also the first time in a feature film Disney used ‘celebrity voices’ for it’s characters.

Phil Harris was a comic and singer of the era and Walt met him at a party and signed him on to play Baloo. Then we had Sebastian Cabot, Sterling Holloway, Louie Prima and George Sanders.

It is the final Disney appearance by the great Verna Felton.  I wish they gave an Oscar for best animated vocal.  They deserve it and get no recognition.

Like Sword in the Stone, Jungle Book is clearly marketed to boys with only 2 female characters- Verna’s matriarch elephant (which is her second time voicing an elephant.  First time being in Dumbo), and the girl who gets the water.

I really like the watercolor feel to the backgrounds.  It reminds me of Dumbo. baloo1I am sure Jungle Book was also attractive to Walt Disney because of the popularity of The Jungle Cruise in Disneyland and the easy ties which could be built into the park.

What’s strange about this period of Disney is they could produce the animation in half the time but it took longer to make the films. I’m not sure why.  Walt’s priorities shifted a bit to the park and his TV show but still it shouldn’t have taken so long with the xerox process?   Jungle Book took 4 years to complete but at least it did very well at the box office. 22 million in it’s first release!


But really this movie sinks and swims on the strength of it’s songs and writing.  The story is very simple.  Mowgli is a ‘man cub’ or human who has been raised by wolves.  The wolf pack is worried about having a man cub when the great Shere Khan, the tiger, is back prowling around.

Bagheera, the panther, agrees to take Mowgli back to the man village for his safety.  So, most of the movie is like a road trip (or walking trip) in the jungle with animal characters.

The first characters Mowgli and Bagheera meet on their journey are a band of militarized elephants that are very funny.

Next we meet the snake Kaa who likes to hypnotize his victims before the kill.  It’s a pretty gnarly character and I like the look of his eyes.  It feels hypnotic.   Sterling Holloway gives another great vocal performance.  He was so versatile as a voice actor.  Hard to believe it is the same voice that is so warm and  sweet in Winnie the Pooh.

shere caunFurther down the jungle they meet Baloo the bear.  He is free-living and easy with just the bare necessities.  As Baloo explains his life philosophy to Mowgli we get treated one of the best Disney songs ever written.  It is so much fun.  I dare you not to tap your feet and smile!

Unfortunately in the middle of the song Mowgli gets taken by some monkeys to their leader, King Louie.  They abduct him because Louie wants to find out how humans make fire.  In order to charm Mowgli into telling the secret we get another great song.

It’s not only the songs which are engaging but the dialogue is also very sharp and funny. As a small example

Bagheera:  This will take brains, not brawn.

Baloo: You better believe it, and I’m loaded with both.

That’s a funny line and so many of the laughs work.  It kind of reminds me of a Pixar movie in that regard.  The jokes feel natural and part of the plot.

One of the things that annoyed me about Sword in the Stone is there was too much teaching good lessons and not enough showing.  Jungle Book does a much better job weaving those lessons into the story. I love the tender scenes where we see how much Bagheera and Baloo really care about Mowgli and vice versa.  This helps give us a reason to be rooting for them.  They are good friends, which is the main message of the movie.  the vultures even sing about it!  I love this conversation between Bagheera and Baloo:

Mowgli flees from Bagheera and Baloo and ends up with a band of vultures.  They are very funny and clearly based on the British invasion bands of the 60s.

Like I said in the Dumbo review I really don’t think this scene is that different than the crows but this is clearly referencing white people not black.

Shere Khan voiced by George Sanders coming in at the end is fabulous.  What a bass!

Then Kaa comes back and sings the longer version of Trust in Me and it is actually Shere Khan that saves Mowgli this time.   I love that the gave a snake sinus problems and a lisp.  There is something inherently funny about a hissing snake with ssssinus issues.

I also like they added two villains.  Where the Sword in the Stone had only a few minutes with a villain with confusing motivation, Jungle Book has two villains with clear motivations.  They want to eat Mowgli.  It’s as simple as that.

Both Shere Khan and Kaa remind me of good James Bond villains- all sleek and full of vibrato.

Baloo then reappears and takes on Shere Khan.  For a second we think Baloo is dead in a scene that actually recites scripture  but it works, which is surprising in such a silly movie.  They’ve had just enough heart with the characters to pull this scene off.

Baloo is also funny when he says ‘I wish my Mother could have heard this…’.  That’s good writing!

Finally they get the village and Mowgli has the instant love trope which Disney always uses when he see’s a girl getting water .  She sings a pretty song but the lyrics I could do without.  I like my female characters to have a little bit more free choice in their life.  Everything is pretty mapped out for this girl.  (It really makes sense that I responded to Little Mermaid so much. There aren’t a lot of strong, good women in Disney films from 1960-1989.

Our final scene of the film is Bagheera and Baloo walking off arm around arm much like the end of Casablanca.  You can almost hear him say ‘ I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”

balloo2Conclusion and Review-

Much like Fantasia and its classical music, it is unlikely you will enjoy The Jungle Book, if you don’t like jazz music..  I enjoy jazz music, so I love the movie.  The songs make me want to dance!

In fact, when I was 14 my Dad took my sister and I to France.  We were there on Bastille Day and went to a restaurant with a band playing.  To our delight they did a cover of ‘I wanta be like you’.  We bought the CD and it was a favorite of our family for many years.  It’s just such a happy, fun song.

But if it is not your taste you will probably find the movie rough going; although, the characters are a lot of fun and there are 2 great villains.

The male-centric messages and characters is a little annoying but I forget about that when I’m immersed in the story.  The writing is sharp.  Managing to be both tender-hearted and funny.

The backgrounds and character animation  are the best of the Xerox films with lots of bright colors and movement.  It’s not as artistically interesting to me as their more ambitious projects but just like 101 Dalmatians and Lady in the Tramp, it does what it is trying to do very well, and like I said it all comes down to good writing and music.

Jungle Book may be the Disney classic I rewatch the most.  It is cheerful, sweet and has a nice message.  Plus, it is appropriate for all ages with only one brief sad moment.  So check it out!

Overall Grade-  A (I’d give it an A+ if there was a better female character).