It was a usual Friday night at the Fox house — with kids staying up late to watch a movie — only tonight I opted out to get some writing done. The girls, ages twelve and nine, settled in with their dad for Netflix’s Mowgli, the new adaptation of the classic, The Jungle Book, No one who is familiar with the story or the multiple film versions would suspect that it could be anything but entertaining. [Spoilers below.]
I was just finishing up an article when my nine-year-old came rushing into my office sobbing tears of agony. She crawled into my lap, barely able to choke out what she had just seen. “I didn’t like Mowgli, Mom. It was bad.” My God… what the hell? She then proceeded to tell me that in this new version, Mowgli has a best friend named Bhoot that is a white wolf.
SPOILER ALERT. I’m obviously going to tell you what happens, so tune out now if you don’t want to know.
The director goes to great pains to make the audience fall in love with this funny white wolf. Then Bhoot and Mowgli get into a fight and Mowgli says some mean things to him, which turn out to be the last words he ever says to his best friend. You know why? BECAUSE A HUNTER SHOOTS AND KILLS BHOOT. And to make matters worse, the hunter hangs Bhoot’s decapitated head on his wall.
That’s right, folks, they display the head of the lovable children’s character on the wall — dead.
I’m not the only one losing my mind over the cruelty of this. (My daughter just came in here to tell me she’s devised her own rating system for Mowgli and it goes like this: “A” for animal abuse, “W” for wrong, and “T” for terrible. She may be only nine, but she’s not wrong.) Twitter is also on fire over the scene and grown adults feel traumatized.
— Liz Whittaker (@LizCWhittaker) December 7, 2018
— Darshana B (@darsy_13) December 7, 2018
Director Andy Serkis is taking some well-deserved criticism (my daughter might have called him a “buttface”). What the heck is wrong with him? Why on earth would he do this to a children’s movie? Unfortunately, we missed the PG-13 rating because it’s not that clearly marked on the Netflix screen and my husband just assumed it was the story we all know. So we take some responsibility there, and for sure, that was a parenting mistake. But this isn’t like shooting Bambi’s mom, whom you don’t even really get to know. It’s a well-known fact that if Disney is going to kill off a parent, it usually happens in the first few minutes, before viewers have formed any real attachments. Killing Bhoot is like shooting Sebastian the crab from The Little Mermaid or Maximus, Flynn Rider’s horse.
You don’t kill off a best friend in a kid’s movie, you maniac! And why would anyone make a “dark” version of a beloved children’s tale? What’s next, a Beauty and the Beast horror remake?
My daughter sobbed for thirty minutes after watching the movie. Am I going to have to take her to therapy now? She’s been traumatized! This was an ill-thought-out decision and I hope Serkis won’t be able to walk down the street without angry mothers smacking him with their purses for a while. Badly done, Andy. Badly done. (In fairness, the 12-year-old liked it, but she also thought the wolf bit was over the top and unnecessary.)
This is an interesting thread, where one movie watcher asks just who this movie is supposed to be for. It’s too dark for kids, but thre is not enough of interest for adults:
Watched #Mowgli…who is this movie for?
— Jason Berman (@JasonHBerman) December 7, 2018
And does Netflix not know better than to at least give a warning for people who will not expect this well-known children’s tale to be so gritty? I guess that’s a stupid question considering they show a movie that has a child simulating masturbation in it. From now on, you can rest assured we will be screening any Netflix original “kids” movies.
Let’s hope I don’t get awakened in the middle of the night by terrorized screaming from my nine-year-old replaying that scene in her head.