Since I completely missed out on the Platinum Editions DVDs as a child, because I felt that, as a boy, I had outgrown Disney, I have this need to collect every single Diamond Edition release, whether I have seen or actually like the movie in question. Because of that, I saw The Jungle Book for the first time in my living memory, perhaps for the first time in my life.
I have this habit of putting things in boxes and stashing them away in my brain, even when I haven't had any actual experience with them, so it's easy for me to write something off just because I assume "Eh, I probably won't like it / it won't be that good." I tend to write off animated Disney movies made after the First Golden Era (Snow White to Bambi), after the Second Golden Era (I consider Cinderella to Sleeping Beauty), and after The Renaissance (Mermaid to Fantasia 2000). So, I always just wrote off The Jungle Book thinking "This was when Walt had moved on to live action and TV and it doesn't have his personal touch, it has songs from The Sherman Brothers, and it uses xerography and I'm not really into that, and I didn't like it as a kid." (I know we had the VHS, so I asked my mom earlier today and she did say "I don't know why, but it was the one Disney movie you and your brother didn't like.) I did the same with The Phantom of the Opera musical ("It'll be too romantic and boring."), the Series of Unfortunate Events books ("It'll be too scary and gruesome!"), and even Little Shop of Horrors ("It's a sci-fi musical about a man eating plant based on a terrible movie. How can it possibly be good?"). And boy, do I love it when I'm proved wrong!
It isn't the best Disney movie, and it isn't my favorite, but it is good. Without going into Disney's restoration (or "quote-unquote 'restoration'" depending on your point of view) practices for it's animated films, it's a beautiful movie. The incidental music by George Bruns is wonderful, the score is, thankfully, a good Sherman Brothers score, the voice acting is more-or-less perfect, and the animation is some of the best I've ever seen, especially on the animals. ("I Wanna Be Like You" alone may be one of the best animated sequence I've seen.) It's also great to see Disney is still releasing the old classics as they were originally released to theaters, with the RKO / Buena Vista title-cards restored and the Walt Disney Pictures logo saved until the end. Now, if only they would stop replacing the Blue Castle logo on the Renaissance films with their current one, I would be happy.
Because of this, I'm gonna go back and watch the other films I've written off, and give The Aristocats another shot, and see how well they hold up.
Except The Fox & The Hound. I don't need that in my life.