DIR: David Alaux • WRI: David Alaux, Eric Tosti, Jean-François Tosti • ED: Jean-Christian Tassy • MUS: Olivier Cussac • CAST: Paul Borne, Philippe Bozo, Pascal Casanova
I’m not sure whose idea it was to make an exotic animal version of the Avengers but whoever came up with it should be severely reprimanded. The Jungle Bunch is a film that will bore most to tears and only mildly interest its target audience. It takes more liberties than most Disney and Pixar films but its only saving grace is in the jaw-dropping detail of its animation.
In an effort to expel an evil koala, named Igor, from the jungle the Champs, an heroic team of animals inadvertently rescue a penguin egg though they ultimately fail to save the jungle from burning down. Igor is exiled and the Champs adopt the penguin that hatches from the egg. Years later the penguin Maurice has flown the nest and formed his own team of vigilante critters called the Jungle Bunch. Igor returns and Maurice must prove himself to his large adopted family of jungle animals.
Nothing about The Jungle Bunch feels natural. The dialogue is flat and so are the performances. Everyone sounds like they’re phoning it in apart from a childlike gorilla named Miguel who sounds like he’s doing a racist impression of a stricken Forest Whitaker. I see the irony in saying talking animals don’t feel natural but when compared to efforts like Zootropolis or another French production like Ernest and Celestine then the weaknesses of The Jungle Bunch really start to show.
There is a great deal of potential in The Jungle Bunch but the likes of PAW Patrol or Fireman Sam have more life to them than this film. That said, even if the voices or the story aren’t convincing, at least the animation is. All the characters have a rubbery, fun consistency to them allowing for some amusing pratfalls and slapstick gags, especially between the two put-upon toads, Al and Bob. The animation is, perhaps, The Jungle Bunch’s only redeeming quality.
Everything from rain-slicked fur to snot and Maurice’s ludicrous straw baboon-disguise are lovingly detailed. TAT Productions’ animators clearly put a lot of effort into bringing these characters to vibrant life. It’s just a shame the rest of the film doesn’t reflect this vibrancy. The kung-fu inspired fight scenes of the film don’t pull as many punches as the average Disney animation. A sloth called Tony wouldn’t be that out of place in one of Jackie Chan’s weirder films. It adds a little bit extra to a film that is an overall disappointment.
The Jungle Bunch feels like it could have done with another draft or two. The script drags the film down to a degree that is rare for such a technically accomplished piece of animation. It’s an agonising bore to anyone over the age of seven but is having an hour and a half of peace and quiet really worth both the financial and temporal cost? I highly doubt it.
G (See IFCO for details)
The Jungle Bunch is released 15th September 2017