Confession: I loved the 1967 version of “The Jungle Book” from Disney. There’s nothing better than Louie Prima as King Louie the orangutan and Phil Harris as Baloo the bear. You know you want to sing with me: “Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities, forget about your worries and your strife.”
So what happens when Jon Favreau and company use computer-generated animals that look so lifelike in a new “The Jungle Book?”
First, you should know this film is beautiful to watch. You feel like you’re in the jungle watching a nature documentary, except of course the animals talk and sing. Kids will love that …
But, because the animals are so real, they are also really scary. Disney movies always have had scary parts. Think about the dragon scene in “Sleeping Beauty” or the witch in “Snow White” or Ursula in “The Little Mermaid.”
The difference is that those movies are cartoons and they are cartoon scary. This “Jungle Book” feels real and really scary.
The tiger, Shere Khan (Idris Elba), is scary to look at with a burned face and a damaged eye. And then we get to see him come right at us out of nowhere time and again, and yes, we get to see him kill another animal.
King Louie (Christopher Walken) doesn’t feel like a Walken caricature, he feels like this gigantic boogeyman who hides in the shadows, then sings a song (what???), then hunts down little Mowgli to try to make him one of his slaves.
Even our heroes Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) and Baloo (Bill Murray) have some scary moments as they creep up on us or injure animals.
Yes, this movie doesn’t shy from the realities of nature, but with jokes that are made for a kid audience and songs for a kid audience, the violence is not for a kid audience.
This movie is officially rated PG, and yes, there is no nudity, no foul language, but there is a lot of realistic violence. Think twice before bringing a toddler, a preschooler, even a young gradeschooler. You might want to save it until they are older or until they can watch it at your home with the lights on and you beside them.
Read our official review by Joe Gross online Thursday at austin360.com or in print on Friday.