Movie Name: The Jungle Book 2
Studio: DisneyToon Studios
Release Date(s): February 14, 2003
MPAA Rating: G
Mowgli is adjusting to life in the village, but the call of the jungle is strong. When Mowgli is convinced to come to the jungle with Baloo, his friends Shanti and Ranjan go searching for him. Unfortunately, the jungle isn’t a safe place for humans. Shere Khan has returned and plots revenge against Mowgli and anyone who might help him.
Directed by Steve Trenbirth, The Jungle Book 2 is a sequel to Disney’s The Jungle Book from 1967. The movie was originally was intended to be direct-to-video but was given a theatrical release. The movie was met with negative reviews but a big box office return.
I like The Jungle Book, but I don’t love The Jungle Book. It has some good songs and fun moments, but it pretty much is a series of unrelated events strung together with a paper-thin plot and so-so animation that Disney was pumping out at the time. This is a harsh view of the film (which I actually do like more than this implies), but I think it is rather true…The Jungle Book 2 feels like a lot of recycled plot (and even animation).
The story is virtually the same with Mowgli goofing off with Baloo while this time Shanti and Ranjan are facing more of the dangers like Kaa and the apes (King Louie was unable to appear due to a contractual issue with the original voice actor Louis Prima’s estate). It feels quite lazy and it even takes away the decent ending to the original Jungle Book by having Baloo staying in Mowgli’s life.
Most of the cast of The Jungle Book had passed by the time of the movie. This meant recasting the main characters. Baloo’s Phil Harris stand-in was John Goodman and Mowgli was played by Haley Joel Osment. Mae Whitman voiced Shanti and Tony Jay replaced George Sanders as Shere Khan. John Rhys-Davis gave his distinctive voice to Ranjan’s father. Phil Collins even has a small role as Lucky.
The original Jungle Book was criticized for lazy, reused animation and this Jungle Book emulated that animation (even stealing a lot of the movements). It feels less like a homage or an attempt to create a true sequel and more like an attempt to pump out something quickly. I suppose it also wouldn’t have made much sense if Mowgli and Baloo were suddenly computer animated CGI characters, but it would have shown effort.
The Jungle Book 2 is something that can be skipped. Disney had big plans for the film and initially eyed a third film until this film bombed in critical circles. Instead, The Jungle Book got the “live-action” treatment in 2016…fortunately, I think we’ll be spared the live action adaptation of this film.