Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - The Jungle Book

Here we are again, on Fishing in the Discount Bin, blogging about one of the many movies I own.  Taking a look at some classic Disney animation this time out with The Jungle Book.  This is in my notes at June 4, 2016.

Well, it's that time of year again.  I've got enough points from Disney's rewards program to treat myself to free Blu-Ray.  I had it narrowed down to either The Sword in the Stone or The Jungle Book.  I ultimately went with The Jungle Book because of all the hype for the live-action movie, and because it's digital copy is valid in Canada.

Sometimes, I have to question The Jungle Book's status as one of Disney's "Legacy" animated films.  I mean, it's easily on par with Robin Hood or The Sword in the Stone in terms of quality.  No doubt, it has a lot to do with the fact that it was the last animated film that Walt Disney himself worked on before he died.  That being said, there's still a lot of fun in the film, and a lot of memorable characters. 

I'm sure you remember the plot.  Young Mowgli, found abandoned in the jungle, rescued by the panther Bagheera and raised by wolves.  When Mowgli gets older, the fierce tiger Sheer Khan returns, and with his fear of man, makes it clear that he intends to kill Mowgli.  Bagheera then volunteers to escort Mowgli back to the village of Man, and they have some episodic adventures along the way.  There's the militaristic elephants...the sinister snake Kaa (voice by Sterling Holloway, using pretty much his Winnie the Pooh voice)...a group of cheerful vultures designed to look like the Beatles because the 60s (apparently, Disney wanted the Beatles to voice the vultures, but negotiations fell through)...the jovial, yet duplicitous King Louie, and, of course, the fun loving Baloo the Bear. 

Ah, Baloo.  Truly the scene stealer of the show.  Voice by legendary comedian Phil Harris.  This was really one of the first times that Disney employed a celebrity voice cast, with Harris as Baloo, Louis Prima as King Louis, and George Sanders as Shere Khan. 

The film is, of course, highly episodic, depicting Mowgli's various adventures.  The music is pretty good, with the always memorable Bare Necessities being humable to this very day.  And the music does contribute to its ending.  I will admit, I love the ending.  I think it's just so note perfect for the film.  As the story goes, the story department was having trouble coming up with the ending.  When the Sherman Brothers -- the guys who wrote so many classic Disney songs in the 1960s -- played the song they wrote for the young girl, Walt Disney stood up and said, "That's it.  That's our ending.  Mowgli hears her siren song and follows her into the village." 

But there's so much more.  Yes, Mowgli hears he song.  Yes, he follows her into the village.  But before he steps in, he looks back, and he see Bagheera and Baloo one last time.  He looks back at his childhood...his younger years...his parental figures.  And he just gives them a shrug and goes into the village.  Bagheera is beaming like a proud parent whose child just got into their #1 college pick, and Baloo is sad because his best buddy is gone.  They share some "this looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship" dialogue, and head back into the jungle singing the Bare Necessities together.  It's just such a note-perfect ending. 

Not much more to say because it's a classic.  Is it at the top of Disney's Legacy films?  No.  But it earned its spot.

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