You really need some back story before you watch The Jungle Bunch: The Movie. Otherwise, you and any child old enough to follow a plot will spend the first part of the movie just trying to figure out what on earth that strange tiger-striped creature carrying around the tiger fish in a fish bowl is supposed to be. Is he a tiger? A penguin? Some cryptid creature?
It turns out that he’s a penguin who was raised in the jungle and thinks he is a tiger. Don’t ask me how; if you are looking for logic, you and your kids are watching the wrong movie. Also, he believes the tiger fish is his son. (Just try to go with it.)
Anyway, back in Antarctica where the other penguins live, Maurice has become a legend as “The Great Tiger Warrior.” Most penguins think he is just a myth, but when their colony is under attack by a group of walruses who wish to enslave them, two brave penguins travel to the jungle, of course, in search of the only tiger penguin who can save them. Maurice must then assemble a team of jungle misfits, including a boar who resembles Elvis and a gorilla, and go to the rescue.
Frankly, this may work as a half-hour cartoon, but as a feature length movie, it doesn’t. It drags and it is silly. The premise makes no sense, which might not matter to toddlers and pre-schoolers, but there’s not enough action and too much dialogue for them.
John Lithgow is the voice of Maurice. Lithgow is a distinguished actor and the author of a number of children’s books. In addition, he has done a number of children’s albums and voice work in films like Shrek. I am reasonably certain that nearly everything he’s done has been better than this.
If you want to experience The Jungle Bunch: The Movie with your child, I suggest watching it on Instant Video first. Maybe your child will like it, but at least if they find it as boring and confusing as the three-year-old I showed it to did, and as I did, you won’t have wasted your money. For jungle adventure, I would suggest you stick to The Jungle Book and for penguins, there is always Happy Feet, where at least the penguins stay in a cold climate where they belong and don’t have stripes.