The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book (2016) PG
Starring: Neel Sethi (boy actor) and voices of animals include: Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Bill Murray (Baloo), and Christopher Walken (King Louie)
Writers: Justin Marks (Screenplay) Rudyard Kipling (book)
Director: Jon Favreau
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
It was probably a good thing that I did not remember much about the original animated version of the movie because it would have been difficult not to make constant comparisons, which may have robbed me of the pure enjoyment of it. My recollections were minimal: there is a young boy living in the jungle; a bear sings The Bare Necessities of Life; and my daughter called it the "leave-me-alone" movie. The plot, however, is straight forward: A father and his young son are in the jungle for some reason and a tiger, Shere Kahn, attacks the father and kills him, but not before the man burns his eye with a torch. The boy survives and is rescued by a black panther named Bagheera who kindly finds an adoptive family of wolves that will raise him. Unfortunately, Mowgli, the boy, has challenges competing with his wolf siblings and is forbidden to use any "tricks" or creative ways to compensate for his lack of wolf prowess. He's told solemnly, "It's not the wolf way."
Everything changes when Mowgli and his wolf family go down to the river during the dry season to drink water. All the creatures of the Jungle are there but the unwritten jungle law forbids any of the animals to prey on each other at this vulnerable time of year. And, everyone is peacefully co-existing, enjoying the fresh H2O, that is until Shere Khan appears and agilely moves down the rocks and speaks menacingly, "I smell a man cub." Of course, you get the drift. The king of the jungle is after Mowgli and it's not to play with a ball of yarn. I must admit at this scene I smiled in delight and thought, this is awesome--realistic, life-like, powerful animals talking with their mouths moving in sync and a real boy in the mix. I knew then I could settle in my IMAX seat and savor the entertainment banquet about to follow. I was not disappointed.
But all is not serious as Mowgli tries to make it back to human civilization where Bagheera and his wolf family think he'll be the safest. Along the way he meets Baloo the bear who cons him into climbing a mountain cliff to get some honey for him. Apparently, according to the odd array of animals that come to watch, Baloo has tried this before with other creatures who failed miserably. When Baloo fears one of the commentators will discourage his accomplice he tells him matter-of-factly: "You have never been so in danger of becoming extinct." When Mowgli succeeds, they celebrate and Baloo treats his young friend to a few bars of his famous song and a belly ride in the river.
I don't know if seeing this movie could be considered a "bare necessity" but it sure was fun. If you get the chance, see it in IMAX - 3-D. It's worth the extra bucks.
"God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1:25).
*The movie may be too scary in parts for children under ten. Let's put it this way: King Louie and Shere Kahn are big animals that get pretty aggressive chasing Mowgli.
The Peanuts Movie
The Peanuts Movie (2015) G
Starring: Charlie Brown (voice: Noah Schnapp, Lucy (voice: Hadley Belle Miller), Sally (Mariel Sheets)
Director: Steve Martino
Writers: Craig Schultz (son of Charles Schultz) Bryan Schultz (grandson of C.S.), Cornelius Vliano
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
This is the best Charlie Brown movie that I have ever seen in regards to quality animation and a story line that reflects Christian values. As usual, Charlie Brown is struggling with low self-esteem, self-pity, and chronic failure. He sees, however, a way to start fresh by befriending the new red-haired classmate who knows nothing of his past.
At first, Charlie thinks he can achieve this goal by being the best act at the school talent show. But, his sister Sally, who goes before him, is doing so badly he feels he must intervene creatively so she does not embarrass herself. Unfortunately, he loses his turn by doing so.
Later, Charlie becomes the most popular boy in school by scoring a 100 on a standardized test. He discovers shortly thereafter, however, that there was a mistake and someone else got the 100. Even though, no one else knows, Charlie feels he must publicly declare to the school body who the real winner was despite the loss of public acclaim.
Charlie continues to help people, however, even when circumstances are not going his way. There is also a fun scene where Snoppy must outwit the Red Baron to win his love interest. A key point in the film is when Charlie cries out to the sky for help (like a prayer to God) and is miraculously transported where he needs to be.
When Charlie finally asks the red-haired girl why she chose him for a special assignment, she surprises him. In fact, by just being himself and naturally caring for others, she says: “You’re just the kind of person I want for a friend.”
"Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart" (2Timothy 2:22).