With a misplaced baby penguin who paints on stripes to look more like his adoptive tiger mother, and a group of jungle creatures running through the jungle playing superhero, ‘The Jungle Bunch’ (Les as de la jungle), the latest animated feature from France’s Tat Productions, is cute, fun, and frantic, but may leave parents answering some tough zoology questions.
‘The Jungle Bunch’ opens with a solitary egg perched on an iceberg as it approaches a tropic isle. But that image is not the strangest visual offered by writer/director team David Alaux and Eric Tosti in this follow up to their French TV series and 2011 animated TV movie of the same name.
Hard on the heels of the stranded penguin egg rides a maniacal koala who tosses colorful mushroom hand grenades into the quiet lives of the jungle residents. But, The Champs, a ragtag group of superheroes (a tiger, a rhino, and a stinky Rastafarian sloth) save the jungle village and drive off the rampaging koala.
Later, when things turn really ugly and the jungle burns down, The Champs decide to hang up their superhero masks. But, Natacha, the tigress, decides to adopt the penguin chick that just happens to break from its egg at the exact moment the crime fighters choose to disband.
Cut to years later, when Maurice, the now intractable young penguin with painted on tiger stripes, leaves home (complete with jungle leaf hobo bindle) to find fame and fortune as a crime fighter.
Then, the story leaps forward and finds Maurice teamed up with a gorilla, a frog, Junior (Maurice’s adopted goldfish son who travels in a fish bowl that never breaks), and several other zoologically ambiguous characters to form the superhero posse The Jungle Bunch, which roams the now regenerated jungle with celebrity status.
But the fun and mayhem really gets going when Igor, the evil koala, returns from exile with his crab sidekick and a troop of baboons for an army. He’s bent on destroying the jungle for good this time. And it’s only when The Jungle Bunch teams up with the now aging Champs, who come out of retirement, that the world gets set to rights.
Yes, it is kind of a confusing plot, and it can be tough to tell what many of the jungle inhabitants are supposed to be. But it’s probably a good mix of cute, colorful creatures, and whacky action for most six-year-olds. And, as all animation must these days, there are just enough adult jokes to keep the chaperons from snoozing.
While it’s not Pixar quality, ‘The Jungle Bunch’ is fast-paced, kids’ fun that’s nicely visual and should satisfy fans of the original TV series as well.
‘The Jungle Bunch’ opens in Irish cinemas on September 15.
Review by Glenn Kaufmann, a Dublin-based freelance writer, and one of the founders of No-Budget, a show for independent filmmakers. Click on the link to discover more: http://bit.ly/2gWCVgd