The Talking Animals of The Jungle Book Continue to Be Nightmares Made Real

I really think The Jungle Book, apart from the problems presented by its source material, may be in trouble. From what we’ve seen in clips, a lot of the talking animals just aren’t working.

What makes these wolves so freaky, when Dawn of the Planet of the Apes works just fine? I think it’s because panther and wolf mouths are so clearly not made for speaking English. You can fudge that in cartoons where animals are given more human-like faces and expressions, but in this “realistic” CGI rendering, the animals just look wrong. I cannot suspend my disbelief and surrender to whatever the plot is because I’m so busy crawling out of my skin.

I get that this clip of Mowgli is supposed to be touching, but mostly I’m watching the movements of the wolves’ mouths and going “I don’t think jaws move like that.”


And then there’s Bill Murray’s voice coming out of Baloo around the :30 mark of this video:

Which is so startling, I fell off my chair. This version of talking animals looks more like the classic “peanut butter in the dog’s mouth with dubbed voice” version than actual talking. I can’t tell if it’s better or worse than the “we put human mouths on wolves” version of speaking animals.

Either way, nightmares are going to ensue.

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About the author

Katharine Trendacosta

Katharine is the former managing editor of io9.