PEOPLE Review: Disney's 'The Jungle Book' Is a Roaringly Entertaining Reboot

We took Sassy, a gorilla trained in hand-signing and movie-review blurbing, to see The Jungle Book

Photo: Disney

We took Sassy, a gorilla trained in hand-signing and movie-review blurbing, to see The Jungle Book, Disney’s reboot of its beloved 1967 cartoon based on the Rudyard Kipling classic. Here are her comments:

“I could go ape over this movie – and going ape is something I know how to do! I have never seen such believable CGI animals (let alone talking animals), and that includes the man-cub Mowgli!” (Actually, he’s played by human actor Neel Sethi.)

“And I went bananas for Baloo the bear! He’s laugh-out-loud funny! If Bill Murray weighed 500 lbs. and wore fur, he’d be Baloo!”

(In fact, Murray voices the character. The vocal cast also includes Idris Elba as Shere Khan, the tiger; Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, the panther; Scarlett Johansson as the python Kaa; and the late Garry Shandling in a small role as a porcupine.)

“Although may I mention, parenthetically, the one thing that didn’t a-peel to me? When Baloo sings ‘The Bare Necessities,’ a song from the cartoon version – that threw me, briefly, out of the movie. There are plenty of animal species that can communicate verbally, and some even possess musical gifts, but none that sing in rhyme. There was that porpoise in the ’90s who sounded so much like Joan Baez, but she turned out to be a fake.”

“Oh, but who gives a baboon’s butt? The Jungle Book is great family entertainment. Director Jon Favreau sure doesn’t monkey around: The pacing is sure-footed, Mowgli’s big faceoff against Shere Khan is exciting, and the story goes straight to the heart – I cried at the baby elephant! Twice! And did you get the reference to Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now?”

We didn’t, to be honest, but Sassy was adamant, and in the end we learned she was right. So we set her free down at the multiplex, where she belongs. When we left her, she was planning on seeing The Boss as many times as necessary to fill the hours until The Jungle Book‘s opening day, and then she would buy a block of tickets for that. She seemed very, very happy.

The Jungle Book opens April 15, rated PG.

Related Articles