The year is 1996. Leather trousers are all the rage. Your favourite sitcom is Friends. You can’t stop listening to the Spice Girls. And a young Jon Favreau is hot off the heels of writing his critically acclaimed classic Swingers. He leaves the set after a long day at work, but when he gets home someone is sat in his home. “Who are you?” he asks in a terrified whisper.
“I have travelled back in time from the year 2016. In my time you will see a dramatisation of the OJ Simpson trial where David Schwimmer – yes, Ross from Friends – will give an incredibly nuanced performance as Robert Kardashian. Donald Trump is looking like he will become the President of America. And you, Jon Favreau, will direct a live-action remake of The Jungle Book that is funnier, more touching and all round better than the original.”
Favreau looks stunned. How can he of all people be able to do this?
“How?” he asks barely grasping the situation around him.
“Well, whereas the original film is more an excuse to show off infuriatingly catchy songs, you choose to simply explore the thematic elements that the film evokes. Where the original has Baloo and Bagheera as comical characters in comical situations, you ask questions about the rights of adoption and how two males are just as capable of raising a child as anyone else. Where Shere Khan is just a bit scary in the original, you make him absolutely terrifying. And the performance of Idris Elba (he’s in The Wire) is both understated and deviously menacing. Speaking of menacing, you make the truly inspired choice of casting Scarlett Johansson as Karr who also is equally menacing.”
The time traveller pauses. Jon Favreau is scrawling in a notebook under the heading “Weird Animal Movie.”
“And you also don’t redo all the songs. You only do 3, which at first I was a little disappointed about, but when I realised those were the only three that I remembered from the original, I let that slide. And when you do this in 20 years time, make sure not to cast Christopher Walken as King Louis. A man with as stilted a cadence as that should not be playing a huge orang-utang who sings and dances. The disconnect between his voice and the animal he was voicing was so jarring that it really took me out of the moviegoing experience. But the cowbell joke you make is pretty funny though.”
Favreau writes: “NEED MORE COWBELL”
“Anyway, just thought I’d pop back 20 years and let you know to make sure it still happens, because you have done the impossible and wanted to make sure you didn’t mess it up.”
The mysterious stranger goes to the door to leave.
“Also make sure you make the movie when the technology is capable or else the film would not work. The animals have such subtle expressions and movements in their performances that older technology simply would not equate. I loved this movie, and a big part of that was because of how utterly beautiful it was both in the animation and your fantastic direction. Loved the movie, see you in twenty years.”
And the stranger left. Jon Favreau sat agape with pen in hand at what he had just seen. A remake of Jungle Book? Why would anyone do such a thing?
The stranger opens the door again: “Oh, one last thing, please don’t let Vince Vaughn do that Psycho remake.”