Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
Impossibly, there are two different versions of The Jungle Book coming to theaters in the near future: one from director Jon Favreau and the folks at Disney (which will probably have more dancing animals), and a completely different project from Warner Bros. that is now in the hands of Ron Howard, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
Coming off of Rush, one of 2013’s most overlooked movies, director Howard has just signed on to take over directing duties for the upcoming live-action Jungle Book film. Howard is taking over the film from director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who had to leave the project over scheduling conflicts. In any case, the move from Inarritu to Howard seems to be a solid one; Inarritu’s involvement with the project had been a bit of a head scratcher from the beginning. Inarritu has always been fascinated with the dark immorality of humanity, and his filmography is filled with morbid and depressing works that are pretty much the polar opposite of any sort of conceivable Jungle Book film… unless things got really goth for Mowgli in his teenage years.
But seriously, the director of such films as Biutiful, Babel, and 21 Grams signing on to make a live-action Jungle Book film was always terribly odd. Howard, on the other hand, seems like the right man for the job, and his work on the upcoming project could see the director return to a genre of film that he hasn’t touched for quite a while. We’re talking about the magical decade of the 1980s, during which Howard made films like Splash and Willow. Whimsical family-friendly adventures that are probably lying around your attic in moldy VHS sleeves. Even though the director has moved on to more prestigious fare like the Oscar nominated Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon, as well as the previously mentioned Rush, we do miss the Howard that made films about Tom Hanks falling for mermaids named Madison. The director knew how to make a fantastic kid’s film, and news that he might be returning to that sort of thing has our nostalgia meters hitting an 11 on a 10-point scale. Here’s hoping The Jungle Book doesn’t disappoint… although we do have Favreau’s as a backup.