Monday, October 10, 2016

You have never been a more endangered species than you are at this moment.

When a major Hollywood studio remakes something that people consider a classic, it's supposed to end up some soul-less cash grab that everyone rightfully hates.

And when that wholly unacceptable remake features live-action talking CGI-animals that occasionally break into song? We're supposed to collectively jettison the entire project to the darkest depths of movie Hell, and pray it stays down there for at least twenty seven years.

These are the rules, and it's foolish to even question them.

Well...unless the movie's really good. Then we're really f--ked.

Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book is really, really good. So good in fact, it's sure to only have the powers that be crank the Live-Action Regurgitron 5000 to eleven and churn out the remakes at warp f--king speed. But if they're as good as this one? Well, go ahead and pencil me in for whatever's coming next.

(Uh, after Beauty and the Beast that the Beast looks like a Saint Bernard had sex with a goat in the Upside Down.)

You know the story, but here goes, anyway. Young Mowgli was left alone in the jungle as a toddler, only to be rescued by a panther and raised by a pack of wolves (an origin story that probably describes a quarter of my previous students' upbringing). He's doing well as the only man-cub in the jungle, but unfortunately, the times they are a changing. A mean-ass tiger named Shere Khan shows up, and doesn't exactly want a human at the top of Pride Rock. So, Mowgli's got to go.

While his wolf-mom's not too hot on that idea, it's in the best interest of everyone. And on the way out of town, that nasty tiger shows up (out of nowhere, my goodness!), and attempts to kill the kid, but the super-rad panther Bagheera holds off Kahn long enough for Mowgli to tumble away on the Wildebeest Express.

Yoda may be pissed at me, but I was certainly craving excitement and adventure, and The Jungle Book heavily delivers on both fronts. I don't think I ever fully saw the original cartoon (it always looked boring), but if it's half as charming and engaging as this one, then I would consider it a must see. Or maybe I'll just watch Favreau's flick again...

Kind of felt like I playing a badass version of Pitfall at times, you know?
The jungle (though it's bit more like a forest, if you ask me) is brought to life so wondrously, you almost have to see it twice to take it all in. I imagine it would have blown my mind to have seen it theatrically, but the technical wizardry still dazzles on the small screen. And if there's something better than the visuals, it's the voice-cast, where a host of celebrities take turns kicking-ass bringing giant CGI creatures to life.

Speaking of fake-things that may or may not excite you, here are the Yays and Boos. They don't have a voice, but if they did I imagine it would sound like a prepubescent buy riding a rusty bicycle with the seat missing.

This is actually...uh...kind of terrifying, isn't it?
  • That was a cool title sequence. Like, Panic Room level of coolness.
  • Mowgli's sprint game is tight. He's pretty much a young Tony Jaa, just replace murderous Thai a-holes with wolf friends.
  • Man, speaking of wolves, those baby ones were adorable.
  • If someone tells me that they love Black Panther, I'm going to need clarification. Cause there's more than one now, you know?
  • That time-lapse of dry-season was all kinds of rad.
  • I loved the reverence for elephants. Actual elephants, that is. Not anything visually represented by an elephant, mind you.
  • We're talking about practice? So...Favs, you totally included a scene from your upcoming Lion King remake, didn't you? Who needs a resume when you can just say that you already started working on it.
  • That temple escape was awesome. Dude, King Louie is cuh-razy!
  • Speaking of crazy, animal battle royale was pretty nuts, too. Good thing Mowgli gave him the okey-doke.
  • And finally, let me applaud just about every single moment spent with Bill Murray's Baloo. Not only is the big bear my honey-devouring hero, but that scene where Mowgli floats down the river on his Baloo's belly? I'm pretty sure that's what pure heaven looks like.
  • Neurotic Porcupine Guy is a real selfish a-hole, you know?
  • Shere Khan (Idris Elba) is awesome. And scary. Poor Violet turned into me when he showed up.
  • Yo, those berry thieves were some real dicks. Same with that mocking monkey. What a f--ker.
  • Kaa, is a creepy snake, down to hypnotize you with her eyes, squeeze you to death, and swallow you whole. But Kaa is voiced by ScarJo. So, yeah, sign me up.
  • That kookaburra tale was awful. Maybe the most terrifying thing in the entire movie...if I understood it correctly.
  • You know that moment when someone good acts like a dick, in the best interest of someone else? I f--king hate that moment. (see this movie and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about)
  • So, uh, King Louie is basically Donald Trump, right? Big, hairy guy, shouting nonsense from a crumbling empire? Seems kinda obvious to me.
  • And finally, there's a pretty cool scene early on when all the animals get together at the watering hole. Nice, right? Right. Well, we see two turtles quickly head into the water when Shere Khan walks by, which prompts my son to say, Dad, remember when we saw those two turtles fighting at the zoo? [laughs] Yeah, uh...they weren't fighting, kiddo. 

Unfortunately, like any American right now, everything I do or see, even totally unrelated and for fun, seems to occur with the shadow of the 2016 Presidential election looming in the background like the f--king Babadook. Watching The Jungle Book was no different.

See, this film's success is obviously going to unleash a deluge of live-action remakes, right? And honestly,  I can't wait to see what's going to happen next...

...while preemptively shuddering at the possible results. Because no matter how it goes...

We're all totally f--ked.


  1. I had literally just put this in the DVD player on Saturday when I lost my power to Hurricane Matthew. Didn't get it back until the next night. Since it was a RedBox rental I had to return it and didn't get to watch the damn thing. Maybe I'll try again this weekend. Glad to hear it's good.

    1. Damn, Matthew. What a dick-move.

      I would stand behind it, as it held not only the interest of 40 eleven year olds on a 'fun Friday', but also my 3 and 6 year olds on Saturday morning. If any film helps me navigate those murky waters, I'm pretty much obligated to support it to the death.

      And, um, it's also just good too.

  2. My husband took my son to this, and I think he got a little scared at parts. There were a lot of people watching this on a flight I was on recently..of course I decided to watch Batman v Superman instead lol. I should give this a shot.

    Great review!

    1. I think there are a couple of dicey bits for sure, but at least he didn't take your son to BATMAN v. SUPERMAN like I did. I still think he's traumatized from a couple of the jump scares. Oops.

      Man, look at you watching something on the plane. I just sit there and try not fall asleep, snore like a wounded animal and drool all over myself.

  3. Yaaaaas! I don't even know how I wound up at the cinema for this, I really didn't like the original Jungle Book. But this...this was wonderful. Bill Murray as Baloo is just perfect on every level. I welcome the onslaught of live action remakes, but I'm still not sure how to feel about Beast. But then, I just watched Krampus, and I can't stop seeing the resemblance.
    - Allie

    1. That's fantastic that you saw this theatrically, I'm actually kind of...jealous?

      I totally hear you on the original, as I always thought it looked arduous if not flat out terrible. But this? This was a nice and somewhat unexpected treat. I'm with you on the live-action remakes, though maybe there will be a point where I regret ever having said that. Too late now.

      Krampus! Oh my...

  4. I hear people whispering While im trying to sleep?
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