Jungle Book 2, The
Mowgli and his friends are back for more adventures as the young boy tries to adjust to his new life in the human village whil with the village rules and sneaks off into the jungle with Baloo, while Shanti thinks he is being abducted by a wild animal and goes off to rescue him. Egad! Now there's two unsuspecting kids in the jungle. What to do? It's a chase to see who gets to Mowgli first--the man-eating tiger, his old pals or his new human friends and family.
Everyone associated with this sequel makes a valiant effort to re-create the indelible character voices from the original but unfortunately just miss the mark. Goodman, who will forever be the lovable James P. ''Sully'' Sullivan from Monsters, Inc., can't quite capture the same magic the late Phil Harris had when he brought the big-hearted Baloo to life. Try and imagine someone else playing Sully. See what I mean? The same goes for attempting to top the 1967 originals Sebastian Cabot as the harried Bagheera, Sterling Holloway as the villainous snake Kaa (remember ''Trusssssst in Me''?) and George Sanders as the ultra-cool Shere Khan. These guys made the Kipling characters their own. Trying to imitate them in Jungle Book 2 doesn't work. At least the sequel has enough smarts to leave out the swingin' orangutan King Louie altogether, who was voiced in the original by jazz musician Louis Prima. No one could have even touched that performance. Osment, who is making a name for himself in the Disney voice-over community after doing the lead in The Country Bears, does a fine job as Mowgli.
The one thing you can say about this sequel is that it tries too hard to be like its ultra-hip predecessor. When the original The Jungle Book was released in 1967, Disney had a vision of Kipling's story as a jazzy jungle romp, with great songs such as ''Bare Necessities'' and ''I Wan'na Be Like You' and incorporated some of the era's coolest beatniks, including Prima and Harris. Jungle Book 2 isn't as toe-tappin' and fans of the original may think the new musical numbers a little cheesy, especially the big one in the jungle ruins with Baloo and company. It can't hold a candle to the King Louie number from the original. Still, the film doesn't fail completely. The continuing story of Mowgli's life is engaging as we watch him cope with his new surroundings, realizing he truly can't be a jungle boy forever.
If you are a fan of the original and are expecting the same rousing fun, Jungle Book 2 may disappoint you, but it's still an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon with your kids.