Seriously. Don’t bring your children to a Disney movie. I recently viewed The Jungle Book, the live action production with Bill Murray as the voice of Baloo and Christopher Walken as the voice of King Louie. I was amazed by the CGI. I was thrilled with the anxious sequences. I was enchanted with the cinematography. I am an adult. I am not a squealing 3 year old who can’t articulate to her mother how much she DOES NOT WANT to see this movie. (You may detect where this blog post is going.) There are some SPOILERS in this blog, but nothing major.
Disney, for as long as I can remember, has created movie marvels (not just the superhero variety.) My Disney experience with movies goes all the way back to Mary Poppins, Swiss Family Robinson, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Correct me if I’m wrong, but no one died in Mary Poppins. Disney films of late have a number of deaths. I’m not saying just because there is death in a Disney film that you should not bring your child. What I am saying is that not all Disney films being made in this current era are like Mary Poppins – purely rated G.
Let’s take The Jungle Book, both versions. In the animated version Mowgli is a very likeable child (man-cub) who has to get back to his own people, so says his care provider, Bageera. In the new version, it is still Bageera who insists he return to the man village, but for a different reason. In the live action version, danger lurks in every corner of the jungle. In the animated version, it’s Dancing with the Stars. The new version storyline is about the ‘red flower’ and the danger it brings, as fire and man’s role in bringing this danger to an otherwise self-contained environment. Death comes frequent enough in the new version, which I found appropriate because this is a movie about “the wild.” There are predators and there are prey. It is the real circle of life. Before you bring your 3 year old to the movie theater, think about what they will see. It is not Mowgli and King Louie dancing and singing. It is Mowgli running for his life from King Louie, who has transformed into King Kong in this version of the story.
Kaa is voiced by the sultry tones of Scarlett Johansson, not the Pooh-like voice of Sterling Holloway. Kaa says she’ll take care of Mowgli as she wraps her coils around him much like in the animated version. Mowgli is saved by her death grip by Baloo who “takes care” of Kaa off camera. We have to presume Kaa is no longer a threat.
The fight scenes seem so real they could be actual footage from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I would hesitate bringing a 3 year old to a movie where the fight between a panther and a tiger is so real and dolby surround sound so vivid. I truly believe Walt would have been proud of this film with its dedication to realism. I also think Walt would have hoped people would not confuse Winnie the Pooh with The Jungle Book. Winnie is a purely rated G storyline, simple to understand, targeting the youngest Disney audience. The Jungle Book is more complex in its storytelling with mature themes.
People will always bring their children to a Disney movie because Disney has done a fabulous job at making everyone believe their products are family friendly. I would leave the little kids at home, unless you are taking them to see Winnie the Pooh. I won’t be in the theater for that one.