John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

The Jungle Book Review

The Jungle Book

Genre: Action and Adventure

Director: Jon Favreau

Cast: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyongo'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Neel Sethi, Christopher Walken

MPAA-Rating: PG

Release Date: April 15th, 2016

This weekend, site Melissa McCarthy’s newest comedy The Boss opens in theaters nationwide. The Oscar-nominated actress stars as a successful businesswoman who is forced to start over after she’s convicted of insider trading and loses her company to a vengeful rival. This film marks the second time that McCarthy has starred in a film that was directed by her real-life husband Ben Falcone (who has a brief cameo in the movie). Thus far, site The Boss reviews have not been kind.

As of  this writing, the film is rotten on RottenTomatoes with an approval rating of 18%. That score will likely change over the weekend as more reviews start tricking in.

In the meantime though, check out a few of the must-read The Boss reviews below (and make sure you check out our own review here).

Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times: “I’m such a fan of so many of the principals in this movie, starting with McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone, who co-wrote and directed, but this was a dreadful viewing experience, from the awkward and unconvincing setup to the desperate performances to the depressingly unfunny slapstick scenes to the conflicts and resolutions you can see a mile away.” Check out the full review here.

Nell Minow, “[I]n other films, including “Identity Thief,” “Tammy,” and now “The Boss,” McCarthy makes the fundamental mistake of committing to an obnoxious character given to outrageous and inappropriate behavior and then insisting that by the end of the movie the other characters and we in the audience have to love her.”Check out the full review here.

Manohla Dargis, “The movie is funny without being much good; mostly, it’s another rung on Ms. McCarthy’s big ladder up.” Check out the full review here.

Justin Chang, “Everything here — even the stray bits that come close to working — feels similarly arbitrary and unmotivated.”Check out the full review here.

Matt Zoller Seitz, “It’s passively bad. It switches gears to no discernible purpose and has things happen that don’t constitute “events” in any meaningful sense, and throughout its last hour it keeps jumping into your lap and demanding love without doing anything to earn it.” Check out the full review here.

Pete Hammond, “[T]his is McCarthy’s showcase from first frame to last, and she delivers for her fans on all counts. She is the boss.” Check out the full review here.

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: “The movie likely to unseat “Batman v. Superman” at the box office this weekend turns out to be every bit as grating and joyless as the one with the capes.” Check out the full review here.

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: “Although her charisma is still undeniable, there’s also no denying that McCarthy is capable of much more than she’s allowing herself to do here.” Check out the full review here.

Molly Eichel, Philadelphia Enquirer: “McCarthy incorporates so many shades and layers into a character who should be irritating, propping up a flimsy movie that will most likely be a footnote in her brilliant career.”  Check out the full review here.

Tom Russo, “The loosey-goosey fun might be a bit much at the finish, but it’s still a laugh watching McCarthy try to get back on her feet.” Check out the full review here.

If you want to read our perspective on the film, click here for our review.
Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book may be a remake of the 1967 animated feature but it completely stands alone. This is a film that pays tribute to the Rudyard Kipling book while impressing contemporary viewers with how the breathtaking visuals and the strong cast combine with Favreau’s strong direction and Justin Marks’ methodical script  to bring this wonderful tale to life.

The story opens with the youthful Mowgli (Neel Sethi) being chased through the woods. It’s in this impressive sequence that Favreau hints at the enormity of the world he’s created. When the animals appear onscreen and start speaking, this web
the strong effects team shows off their work in a subtle but powerful way. There’s no cuteness to the way these characters talk and there’s no strange effects involved.

Because of the nuance and the visual acuity of special effects, the drama quickly overcomes any hesitation the viewer may have about talking animals.

After a few brief scenes, the director welcomes us into the heart of his vision in a scene where dozens of different species of animal come to a small lake to drink together. It’s here where Favreau first creates a true sense of wonder and majesty. Similar to the first shot of the roaming dinosaurs in Jurassic Park,

this scene magically shows the power and wonder of these creatures onscreen and welcomes the audience into an incredible visual landscape.

The main thrust of the story is established in this sequence as well. After being raised by a den of wolves, Mowgli — a man cub who doesn’t realize how different he is from the young wolves he’s grown up alongside — is threatened by the monstrous tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba). Bearing a mysterious scar on the right side of his face, Shere Khan thirsts for vengeance against this young boy. Knowing that Mowgli in trouble, the wolves discuss his fate and — at Mowgli’s insistence — decide to return him to the man village.

Thus begins Mowgli’s journey.

During his trip, Mowgli befriends a bear named Balo (voiced by Bill Murray), gets captured by a giant ape named King Louie (Christopher Walken) and is threatened by a sinister snake named Kaa (Scarlett Johansson). In other words, the classic characters are back and with this stellar cast of actors voicing them, they are given new life.

Murray’s dry sense of humor perfectly fits his character and his great one-liners offer a few of the film’s notable laughs (“You’ve never been a more endangered species as you are at this moment,” he says to an annoying critic.) It’s hard not to become enamored when both Murray and Walken — another perfectly-cast performer— are given noteworthy singing parts that bring some of the classic songs back to life. In fact, most of the stellar voice cast gets an incredible chance to shine here including the late Garry Shandling, who voices a colorful porcupine.

As the only main actor who appears in person, Sethi also does a strong job as the kind Mowgli. It’s hard not to appreciate this young actor’s range. In his role, he’s tasked with creating a powerful emotional connection to the special effects-crafted creatures and he pulls it off nicely. Such emotional weight  is conveyed in a scene where Mowgli has to bid adieu to the mother who raised him and in another sequence where his heart gets broken by Balo.

“We’re buddies, aren’t we?” he asks and despite the fact that he’s speaking to a talking bear, the audience immediately understands this connection and the impact this conversation is having on this young hero.

Although The Jungle Book is a Disney film, it should be noted that there are a few violent sequences here (including animals fighting one another). Parents should be aware of such dark sequences but overall, this is a tremendous film that — alongside the original — will undoubtedly be enjoyed by countless families in the years to come.

Click here for more must-read reviews of the new film.

Review by: John Hanlon