What's this? Muddy colours, flat linework and a totally forgettable score in a Disney `toon? Uncle Walt will be somersaulting in his cryogenic crypt. Don't try proffering excuses, either - - yes, this has been slapped together by the television animation division, meaning the bar is considerably lower, but that doesn't explain why this half-arsed effort is on our cinema screens.
The plot is an almost note-for-note replay of the original, as wolf-reared sprog Mowgli (voiced by Haley Joel Osment) hooks up with Baloo the bear (a pitch-perfect John Goodman) to fight off an evil tiger and a sinister snake. Sure, this time around Mowgli has young villager Shanti (Mae Whitman) for company, but the tale is still ridiculously slight. Even the filmmakers know this, attempting to swerve the problem by having Mowgli and Baloo sing signature tune `Bare Necessities' not once, not twice, but three times. Talk about worries and strife...
Of course, Mowgli undergoes the same journey and learns the same moral lesson as he did way back in 1967 (people need people and all-singing, all-dancing animals are a poor substitute), leaving adult viewers trapped in Groundhog Day territory, unable to escape.
That said, under-fives will probably suck this up - but then under-fives will also suck up bleach from beneath the sink. The rest of us have to content ourselves with seeing Phil Collins animated as a barely intelligible vulture. Which, as consolations go, ain't half bad.
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