The Jungle Bunch (3 stars)

The Jungle Bunch

Decent enough animated adventure based on the popular French TV series

Not to be confused with the 2011 featurette The Jungle Bunch: The Movie, this children's animation also stems from the popular French television series. With over 100 episodes to date, The Jungle Bunch has enough brand recognition to score a sizable success in France, while families fresh to the gang's antics should appreciate the film's direct approach to entertaining kids.

Penguin Maurice (Philippe Bozo) was raised by tigress Natacha (Maik Darah) as her own kin. Ignoring his origins, he's not afraid to cover himself with orange and black war-paint and use his martial arts skills to protect his mother's values when natural law and justice are threatened. Maurice has enough charisma to lead his own team of crime-fighting creatures – including a gorilla, a bat and a couple of wisecracking toads – into conflict with 'psycho koala' Igor (Richard Darbois) and his legion of baboons, all of whom are hell-bent on destroying the jungle kingdom they share.

Whatever charm the series has for youngsters seems to have been transplanted successfully; co-writer and director David Alaux was one of the original show's creators, and there's obvious confidence in both creature designs and characters. Unlike 2014 spinoff The Jungle Bunch 2: The Great Treasure Quest, which brought in American actors, Maurice and his pals benefit from an authentic voice cast that accentuates the slapstick nature of proceedings. Unfortunately, the underlying ratio of crude poop jokes, mixed in with outdated pop culture references (Rocky, Mission: Impossible), is pretty much industry standard.

In an increasing field of mediocre children's movies, The Jungle Bunch is a decent entry, with bright, lush animation and a brisk, unpretentious story that's enough to focus attention from the under-ten set. Never reaching for the philosophical or existential heights of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, the film offers a cheap, but sufficiently cheerful rumble in the jungle.

General release from Fri 15 Sep.

The Jungle Bunch

  • 3 stars
  • 2017
  • France
  • 1h 37min
  • U
  • Directed by: David Alaux
  • Cast: Paul Borne, Philippe Bozo, Pascal Casanova
  • UK release: 15 September 2017

Maurice (Bozo) is a penguin who’s been raised by Natacha, a tigress (Darah). He leads his own team of crime-fighting creatures against evil koala Igor (Darbois) and his baboons. Lush animation and a brisk, unpretentious story make for a cheap but cheerful rumble in the jungle for pre-teens.