Movie Night with Lauren: The Jungle Book and Cinderella

Another week of cranky Lauren when it comes to movie watching… Last “Movie Night” it was Alien: Covenant and Life, and now I don’t have the nicest things to say about this week’s selections either. I might be dead inside…

The Double Feature: While looking through my google docs I came across a writeup I did for the 2016 live-action version of The Jungle Book. Guess I forgot to post it. Oops… Oh well, that gave me the perfect opportunity to pair it with another recent live-action remake, Cinderella, as I wait to see Lily James in Baby Driver.

Jungle Book 2

The Jungle Book (2016)

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the 1967 Disney film so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this (kind-of) live-action adaptation, but with the anticipation of the newest Beauty and the Beast I was feeling the pull to revisit another classic. (I told you I originally wrote this a while ago. Again I say oops.)

Basic Synopsis: A young boy being raised by a pack of wolves must leave his home in the Indian jungle when a grudge-holding tiger threatens his life.

Brief Thoughts: Honestly, I was bored. I’m not sure why because it didn’t necessarily feel like there were large lulls in action or that the story dragged on, yet I found myself more interested in googling whether or not all of these animals actually live in close proximity to each other than in Mowgli’s journey to human civilization. (For those wondering about the animals as I was, they do all live near each other in India. Well, other than the Gigantopithecus. That dude’s extinct.)

The biggest hurdle for The Jungle Book is obviously the heavy reliance on visual effects, CGI characters and environments. For those worried like I was, fear not. Turns out the Oscars know what they are doing when handing out nominations. At least in this case… A huge percentage of this world was created digitally, but you wouldn’t know it. Especially where the environments are concerned. Occasionally there are moments like “well that’s not a real wolf,” but for the most part the CGI doesn’t pull focus. The tiger, Shere Khan, was straight up beautiful.

Random Question: Why don’t some animals talk? Does King Louie have a rule that his monkey and ape subjects aren’t allowed to speak English? Cuz this doesn’t make any sense to me.

More Important Question: Is it bad that I wish they had cut the songs? Baloo first quietly singing “The Bare Necessities” to himself was a great way to integrate the musical numbers into this movie, but then it broke out into a full blown song that just didn’t fit. “I Wanna Be Like You” was much worse. Maybe it’s just me, but a giant ape is far less intimidating when singing to the kid he’s threatening.

Final Thoughts: The Jungle Book didn’t do it for me, but it has a 95% with critics on Rotten Tomatoes, so what do I know?

Cinderella 2

Cinderella (2015)

Basic Synopsis: A girl who has been forced into a life of servitude by her cold hearted stepmother finds happiness in the possibility of marrying a prince.

Brief Thoughts: Cinderella was one of the Disney movies my sister and I didn’t have growing up, so I don’t really have a huge connection to it; which may be why it is so easy for me to be thrown off by how stupid the story actually is. Just think about it. The crux of the plot is that while running from the prince’s ball at the stroke of midnight, Cinderella loses her glass slipper. A shoe that was made to perfectly fit her foot so that later on when the prince goes around trying it out on all the women of the land, he will know who it belongs to because it fits her foot, and hers alone. So how exactly does it fall off (twice in this movie)?

And how does the prince not remember what Cinderella looks like!? It’d be one thing if there were a ton of identical looking skinny, blonde girls in the kingdom and he had forgotten to wear his glasses the night of the ball, but he is so unaware of her appearance that he tries the shoe on old women, large women, black women… How dumb is this guy!?

I do my best to maintain my suspension of disbelief when it comes to fairytales and other fantastical stories, but there isn’t any substance here to compensate for the questionable concept. The jokey tone in many scenes made me roll my eyes more than smile, and other than Cinderella’s stepmother there isn’t really as much nuance to the characters to make them fully realized. Instead they mostly reside on one note apiece, lacking in any amount of depth that would make them interesting.

Worst of all, the whole story centers around a girl hiding who she is. Where’s the updated message about accepting who you are for the current generation of kids?

I Might Be Nitpicking: The mice seemed like they were in some weird in between. The movie chose not to anthropomorphize them as the animated version did, but they were constantly squeaking conversationally. I say either go all out as the rest of the movie does, or go realistic.

Worst Line of the Film: When Cinderella’s fairy godmother first makes an appearance she introduces herself as a “hairy dog father.” I love Helena Bonham Carter and all, but even she wasn’t able to win me over with this role. And where was this lady when Cinderella was sleeping next to a dead fire because it was all the warmth she was allowed? You should’ve brought blankets, fairy godmother! And some food so she wasn’t living off of table scraps! But no, the only thing that matters is making Cinderella presentable so she can get married to the prince.

Other Worst Line of the Film: When Cinderella asks her stepmother why she was such a B to her, her response was: “Because you’re young, and innocent, and good.” I get it, I wanted to punch Cinderella in the face for always being so nice too, but this final moment that should’ve been used to nail down her motivation of jealousy of Cinderella ended up being wasted in my eyes. She didn’t come off as sympathetic, just bitter. So not only do I not connect with the Stepmother in this moment, I don’t connect with Cinderella when she then says she forgives her. This is partly because I’m someone who tends to hold onto grudges way too tightly, but it’s also just because this forgiveness is in no way earned.

Final Worst Line of the Film: “My queen.” “My Kit.” Does the prince even know what her name is?

Final Thoughts: Clearly this movie wasn’t for me. At the same time, I don’t see how it could be for anyone else. Audiences should demand more from their movies, especially those that are remakes of old classics. Time to dig up my copy of Ever After.

The Double Feature Verdict: Though I wasn’t necessarily a fan of either, and honestly found myself asking why these movies are even being remade, I would definitely put The Jungle Book far above Cinderella if I had to choose one over the other.

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