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The The Jungle Book 2 (Special Edition) - animated DVD / children's and family DVD review
THE JUNGLE BOOK 2 (SPECIAL EDITION) Rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 stars
Actors: Haley Joel Osment, John Goodman, Connor Funk, Tony Jay, Bob Joles
Director: Steve Trenbirth   Distributor: Walt Disney Video
DVD release: 17 June 2008   Feature runtime: 72 minutes
(1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Animated, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
DVD Features: Audio tracks (English - 5.1, 5.1 DTS; Spanish; French), Subtitles (English, French, Spanish), Games & Activities (Mowgli's Story Time Adventure, Mowgli's Jungle Ruins Maze), Music & More (optional on-screen lyrics), Music videos ("I Wanna Be Like You" by Smash Mouth, "W-I-L-D", "Jungle Rhythm"), Deleted scenes ("I Got You Beat," "Braver"), Backstage Disney (Synopsis Of The Original Movie The Jungle Book, The Legacy of The Jungle Book), Sneak peeks

The Jungle Book 2 takes over where the first adventure left off in 1967. Mowgli (Haley Joel Osment) is living in the village with the humans, relating stories of his adventures in the previous movie to his foster family. He has eyes for Shanti (Mae Whitman), the girl who lured him out of the jungle in the first film. She's very good at village things, and Mowgli is very good at jungle things, so they tend to challenge one another. Shanti, Mowgli and his foster brother, Ranjan (Connor Funk), are scolded when they get too near to the jungle. This burns Mowgli, who misses his life of leisure with Baloo (John Goodman).

Baloo and Mowgli get together and venture into the jungle right about the time evil tiger Shere Khan (Tony Jay) returns to the man village to come for Mowgli. Shanti follows them into the jungle, and Ranjan follows her. Baloo and Mowgli quickly get down to the bare necessities of laying around and enjoying life. But there are dangers in the jungle that none of the children are well-equipped to handle. Mowgli's friends do their bit to help, however; Bagheera (Bob Joles) is the voice of reason, encouraging Baloo to return Mowgli to the man village.

That's the setup, but the finish is less than spectacular. It's a revisiting of Mowgli's story that's entertaining but pretty much parallels the first story. The ending we remember from the first is matched, and all the characters go back to where they were when the The Jungle Book 2 began. While it's not bad, a more unique story would have helped.

John Goodman performs Baloo's voice as only John Goodman can, taking care not to try to duplicate Phil Harris' original performance. Other voices (Kaa and Colonel Hathi) are performed with eerie aptitude by Jim Cummings. He's been doing Pooh and Tigger lately, too, and he's very good at his job.

The Jungle Book 2 adds only "Mowgli's Story Time Adventure" and cleaner looking menus (same images, sharper picture) to the previous DVD release. I find this disappointing, but then I find Disney's whole Disney Vault limited-release scheme a bit frustrating and wish they'd quit it.

If your children loved the first The Jungle Book, give this one a try. It's not groundbreaking, but it's got some clever tunes and it might keep their attention for 72 minutes.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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