I have seen The Jungle Book twice. The first time I saw the film it was in the best possible movie theater available to me (you can read about my experience here) and then I had the privilege to screen the film during the world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre. Since I’ve come back from Los Angeles the main question I’ve received from my friends (many of whom are parents with young children like mine) as well as First Time Mom fans is if the movie is appropriate for their child.
Can my child(ren) see the new The Jungle Book in the theater?
It’s honestly a challenging question to answer; every child is different and what a child can handle really is an individual decision that you as the parent must make. Growing up my sister and I had very different tastes in movies. I have a vivid imagination and will often dream about a movie that I see if it’s disturbing to me. Because of this, I have only watched one of the Harry Potter movies. My sister, who is younger than me, has seen all of them. Yes, she essentially screens movies like that for me. As I’ve aged and matured (hopefully I’ve matured!) I’ve been able to watch more on TV and on the theater screen. I probably could watch all of the Potter movies and perhaps I will but at the time they were releasing the movies I was a teenager and in college. My overly active imagination would have run wild with the images on the screen, therefore, Laura, felt that it would be better to not watch the movies. Here’s what I suggest:
Age 7 years and older
My oldest, The Boy, is seven-years-old and I do feel that this is an age appropriate movie for him. He has seen many of the Star Wars movies as well as a few other very visual films. With enough prepping in what to expect he is able to separate the fictional characters and plot on the screen with reality. There are a few intense scenes in The Jungle Book and many of those have Shere Khan in them. He’s the villain of the story after all plus he’s a tiger out for vengeance and that paired with the extremely well done CGI effects makes for realistic fight scenes. King Louie is also not the King Louie of the animated Disney film and there is a chase scene with the King that is also intense.
What I want for The Boy to learn: I want for him to recognize the value in family, even if that family doesn’t look the same; family sticks together and fights for each other. I also want for him to see how Mowgli throughout the movie learns to fight for his place in the Indian jungle. It’s his home, he may be different from his friends but he accepts himself for who he is and embraces that. He stands up to Shere Khan and demands for the tiger to let him stay in his home.
Age 6 years and younger
If you have a child who is age six or younger my suggestion is what screen the movie first. Again, this all comes back to how each child is different. My middle daughter, Pippy, will be five-years-old in June and she is far braver when it comes to watching movies than her two and a half years older brother, The Boy. She desperately wants to see the movie. Both kids have watched the trailers and featurettes countless times and obviously since I went to Los Angeles for the world premiere they are just as excited for the movie as I am. Pippy will be seeing the movie. Sure she’s going to hide her face every once and a while during the film but I will be sitting down with her before we go to explain to her how the movie was made. During my interview with Neel Sethi, the amazingly talented actor who plays “Mowgli”, my son wanted me to ask if there were any scenes during filming that scared him. His answer was that there really wasn’t because he was only ever 30 inches off of the ground. He wasn’t acting with real live animals, he was acting with puppets and using his imagination. I’ve explained this to my kids several times so they understand both the beauty in how the film was created as well as the technology used to create the very real looking scenes.
What I want for Pippy to learn: I want for her to see how strong and gentle, Mowgli’s mother, Rhaksha (voiced by the talented Lupita Nyong’o), is. Plus, I want for her to see all of the lessons that I hope my son sees.
Age 4 and under
My youngest will be two-years-old in May. I will not be taking her to see the movie. Her brain isn’t developed enough to understand CGI, imagination, real verses fiction, etc. Plus, there’s no way she’d sit through an entire movie in a theater! My nephew will be three-years-old in July and his daddy showed him the trailer for the movie. He is obsessed with all things Jungle Book now as well as Shere Khan. I’m not sure what my sister intends on doing; I know she will be going to see the movie first and most likely she’ll decide after viewing it whether or not his little three-year-old brain can handle it.
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Bottom line: I can’t tell you whether or not it’s appropriate for your child to see the movie. I, unfortunately, don’t know you personally and I don’t know your child. My suggestion is to see the movie first (and yes, it must be in the theater) and then you can decide what to do.
Tidbits for the Grown-Ups & Why This is a Must-See Movie
We all grew up with the animated classic The Jungle Book and for many seeing the remake, a live action remake by Disney, seems sacrilegious. I personally didn’t love the animated film; I liked it, don’t get me wrong, but I was more of a Disney Princess girl. Sleeping Beauty was my jam. After seeing The Jungle Book twice now, I much prefer this version. Here’s why:
There are hints of the animated classic.
And the way director Jon Favreau has intertwined the story we know from the animated movie with Rudyard Kipling’s story is beautifully done. There is a richness and depth (like finally understanding why Shere Khan hates Mowgli so much) to Favreau’s film that just didn’t there in the animated film.
You have the same characters as the animated film, however, they feel more developed. Bagheera and Mowgli have a tender and deep relationship in this version whereas the animated film always made me feel like Begheera was annoyed with Mowgli. Baloo is still the comedic escape but with a little more swindler in him than silliness; yet when the time comes to save his friend, Mowgli, he steps up multiple times. Raksha and Aklea, the wolves who take Mowgli in as their own, have a more important role in this version and it really adds a level of humanity to the film. Shere Khan is played brilliantly by Idris Elba and you truly end up hating him.
King Louie is gigantic and contrary to his animated character is not quite as silly. Kaa’s eyes…there are still there and just as hypnotizing as the animated film!
While the film is not classified as a musical, remnants of those iconic songs are still present. In fact, after seeing one of the versions, Favreau’s wife encouraged him to add a song to the movie. She insisted that he just simply could not have the live action film without including the song. I’ll let you figure out which one it was and then you come back and guess.
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In with the new.
Favreau did a beautiful job of keeping the characters, scenes and even songs that we associate with The Jungle Book but he also added a few new things. I’m not going to tell you them all but here are a few things to be looking for:
- This little fella – Mr. Pangolin. He has a minor role in the film but he has majorly stolen my heart. Pangolins are the most illegally poached mammals in the world – even more than elephants and rhinos combined. They are used for their scales in Asia for status, food, Eastern medicine and clothing. It may seem like a simple, solution, just capture a few and help them breed under protection in a zoo, however, that doesn’t work for pangolins. They are solitary creatures, nocturnal and shy. They have not survived in captivity nor have they been able to reproduce while in captivity. They’re really very sweet harmless creatures and currently have very limited laws that are protecting them let alone the resources and awareness to enforce those laws. For more information and to get involved visit IFAW’s website. So be on the lookout during the film for Mr. Pangolin, the adorable walking artichoke-looking mammal!
- There is one prop that Favreau told us he wished he would’ve taken from the set. If you know your Saturday Night Live history you’ll figure out which prop it was.
- The ending is not similar to the animated film’s ending at all. I like the live-action ending better.
The Jungle Book opens TODAY in theaters everywhere! Get thee to the theater and see the film, with your kids or without. Either way I’m claiming that The Jungle Book is a theater viewing movie so don’t miss it.
The film opens in 3D, RealD 3D, and IMAX 3D everywhere on April 15th.
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