The Jun­gle Bunch

Vic­to­ria and Ab­dul

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - CINEMA - AINE O'CON­NOR AINE O’CON­NOR

Cert: PG; Now show­ing

In 2010 Ab­dul Karim’s pri­vate jour­nals were re­leased. These pre­vi­ously un­known mem­oirs told of an ex­tra­or­di­nary friend­ship which had caused great con­ster­na­tion and been largely ex­cised from his­tory.

Karim was a clerk in Agra when he was cho­sen, largely be­cause of his height, to take the four-month boat trip from In­dia to Eng­land, to present a com­mem­o­ra­tive coin to Queen Vic­to­ria.

He be­came one of her clos­est friends in the last years of her life and Stephen Frears’s film tells a ver­sion of the story.

Queen Vic­to­ria (Judi Dench) was al­most 70 and ex­hausted when the young, hand­some and very tall Karim (Ali Fazal) ar­rived in her life. She pro­moted him from ser­vant to mem­ber of the royal house­hold, call­ing him her Mun­shi, an Is­lamic teacher, in or­der to fa­cil­i­tate their friend­ship.

At first a source of fas­ci­na­tion and then of out­rage to other mem­bers of the house­hold, Karim and Vic­to­ria faced fierce op­po­si­tion.

Inevitably rem­i­nis­cent of Mrs Brown, the 1997 film about Vic­to­ria (again played by Dench) and her friend­ship with John Brown, this film feels a lit­tle un­nec­es­sary. How­ever it is very light and en­joy­able. Dench is great, the bad­dies, in­clud­ing Ed­die Iz­zard as Ber­tie, are bad, the good­ies are good.

It would have ben­e­fited from a time­line as it was un­clear how long the friend­ship lasted (14 years) but it is a pleas­ant, un­chal­leng­ing film that will please fans of pe­riod drama and Dame J.

Cert: G; Now show­ing

The Jun­gle Bunch is a French tele­vi­sion car­toon se­ries of which there have been sev­eral TV movies (this is their first cin­ema out­ing). David Alaux di­rects this as he did the other films and it is grand. It’s low bud­get so the an­i­ma­tion is less re­fined than we have be­come used to but it is aimed at younger chil­dren who are un­likely to be in­ter­ested in an­i­ma­tion tech­nique.

The Champs, led by Natasha the ti­gress, have been look­ing af­ter se­cu­rity mat­ters in the jun­gle for some time. Now that they have re­tired, Natasha’s adop­tive son Mau­rice, a pen­guin who paints stripes on his body to be like his momma, has gath­ered a group of an­i­mals to take their place.

They meet their mother’s old foe, Igor the psy­chotic koala, who, thwarted by the Champs the first time he tried to de­stroy the for­est, is now ab­so­lutely in­tent on achiev­ing his aim. Why is un­clear, he just is. Natasha, in some pretty dodgy par­ent­ing is rather dis­parag­ing of her son’s abil­ity to achieve any­thing, much less save the for­est, so poor old Mau­rice bat­tles lack of faith and a men­tal mar­su­pial. The Jun­gle Bunch is quite de­riv­a­tive; there are many pieces that bring to mind other car­toons. The tone is also a lit­tle strange, it’s quite snarky at times — the hu­mour lies in laugh­ing at rather than laugh­ing with.

This won’t go down as a clas­sic of chil­dren’s cin­ema, how­ever it is short and will amuse younger chil­dren with­out cost­ing too much in mer­chan­dis­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.