This was the other Disney sequel in the primary line to get a theatrical release (I consider Pixar’s Toy Story 2 to be in an entirely different category). It is, of course, based on the last Disney film of Walt Disney’s lifetime, a film whose episodic structure and lack of focus was compensated for by an extremely colorful cast of characters and one of the Sherman Brothers’ finest scores. The sequel’s setup had potential, given that Mowgli now has a much more complex conflict (choosing between the ‘Man Village’ and the Jungle now that he has an emotional investment in both of them). But they use this promising framework not to tie together the film into the continuous narrative its predecessor never achieved (which would probably have made it one of the best Disney sequels), but simply to provision a retread of the original film’s picaresque episodes, only without the delightful characters and fine songs that sparked the original. Some of the voice acting is quite good, particularly Haley Joel Osmont as a nicely three-dimensional Mowgli, John Goodman as a near-ideal Baloo, Jim Cummings imitating Sterling Hollaway as perfectly as he does in the Winnie the Pooh films, and Phil Collins in an amusing cameo part. But most of the rest of the cast is giving perfunctory imitations of their characters’ original voices, and this, combined with the uninspired writing, makes the characters seem far less interesting than in the original film. As for the new songs, they at least make an effort to sound like the original score, but they aren’t especially interesting or memorable, and the film had to resort to recycling the two most memorable numbers from the original film, “Bare Necessities” and “I Wanna Be Like You”. This isn’t as bad as the last Disney sequel to play theaters, Return To Neverland, but it’s ultimately a mid-range, mediocre title in the DTV sequel line, and while there are plenty of far worse entries in the series, I can think of several others which would have benefited much more from a theatrical release.