- “Whenever great deeds are remembered in this jungle, one name will stand above all others: our friend, Baloo the bear.”
When story-man Bill Peet was given the green light to develop an animated adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's stories, he made notable effort to stay true to the source material, specifically with its dark tone. Walt Disney was against the idea, wanting the story to be a fun adventure, and subsequently took control of overseeing the project, personally. This would spark major changes to both the story and characters, including Baloo; in the original book, Baloo was more of a serious character, as he was very strict with Mowgli and did not tolerate negligence. The Disney version was developed as a fun-loving, humble character, with a relationship with Mowgli that would serve as the heart of the film.
Baloo's trademark song, "The Bare Necessities", was actually written for Bill Peet's original draft of the film. When Walt overtook the project, "The Bare Necessities" and the accompanying songs were cut, with the Sherman Brothers being brought on to write the new songs. However, the filmmakers loved "The Bare Necessities" and pleaded to have it remain in the film; Walt would eventually agree.
When it came to casting Baloo, Walt suggested television personality and social friend, Phil Harris, to provide the voice. This was met with controversy amongst the filmmakers, as they believed Harris was unfit to star in a Rudyard Kipling-inspired film. Walt, nevertheless, encouraged the team to move forth with the idea, additionally using it as a means to further separate the tones of Kipling's stories and the Disney adaptation. Once Harris came into the studio, he felt out of place and hesitant to fully accept the role. To make himself more comfortable, he asked the directors permission to approach the role with his own unique flair and mannerisms. The results were universally beloved, and the character of Baloo was largely shaped to match the personality of Harris, himself, from that moment forward.
Baloo is easily characterized by his laid back, gentle nature. Often speaking with a soft, smooth tone, the sloth bear is known for his ideals of remaining relaxed as often as possible, and preventing the pressures and responsibilities of life hold one down, as vocalized through his song, "The Bare Necessities". Bagheera, the wise Panther, describes him as a "jungle bum"; a seemingly useless member of animal society, only focused on lounging, snacking, scratching his back, and other minimal activities labeled as lazy pastimes. Though lazy, stubborn, and foreign to true responsibility, Baloo has a large heart, often taking his ideals (which are seen to have successfully led him to a happy lifestyle) and sharing it with others, including Mowgli, the man-cub, in hopes of spreading the happiness he's been fortunate enough to experience.
Additionally, aside from enjoying the pleasures of relaxation and tranquility, Baloo is also a lover of parties, jazzy music, and jungle beats. Through the sound of bouncy rhythms alone, the sloth bear can be seduced into joining a party, going as far as to becoming the center of attention, as seen during the climax of "I Wanna Be Like You".
However, in spite of his loyalty to his "bare necessities", Baloo is not above abandoning morals and disregarding the safety of others for himself, or what he believes in, as evidenced by his decision to ultimately join Bagheera in escorting Mowgli to the Man Village, where he belonged, despite the bond the two had formed by that time, showing the sloth bear is capable of taking responsibility should the circumstances reach a valid level of importance.
Baloo is first seen eating and taking a stroll in the jungle when all of a sudden, he sees the strangest thing. Baloo takes a closer look at this "thing" and the boy slaps him in the nose. He tells Baloo to go away, eventually starting to punch and kick, although Baloo cannot even feel it. He does the boy a favor and begins teaching him how to fight. Eventually, the boy and Baloo become friends, and the boy's name is revealed to be Mowgli. Bagheera, who is watching Mowgli, is ready to take him back to the Man Village. Baloo offers Mowgli the opportunity to stay with him, which he accepts gladly, but Bagheera does not. Baloo then begins to teach Mowgli about "The Bare Necessities". Baloo teaches Mowgli about eating ants and relaxing. He tells him to never work hard and to not waste time looking around for something he may want but cannot be found.
During a nice swim down the river, Mowgli is kidnapped by monkeys. Baloo tries to fight them off to save his "bear cub", but they taunt him and escape, taking Mowgli with them. Baloo shouts for Bagheera. The two know exactly who is responsible for this, and they head off. The plan was from none other than King Louie, king of all primates. Louie desires the power of Man, and wants to create Man's "Red Flower". He asks Mowgli, who he tries to convince by singing "I Wanna Be Like You". Mowgli claims he does not know, but Louie refuses to believe. Baloo and Bagheera devise a plan; while Baloo distracts the monkeys, Bagheera will rescue Mowgli. Baloo dresses as a female orangutan and dances with Louie. They are discovered after Baloo's costume falls apart, and a chase begins. The ruins begin to collapse just as Baloo, Bagheera and Mowgli make their exit, leaving Louie at his destroyed kingdom.
That night, Baloo and the others rest. Bagheera takes the time to explain why Baloo cannot adopt Mowgli as his son. Baloo is reluctant to listen until the mention of Shere Khan, the tiger who seeks to kill Mowgli only because he is a human. Baloo sadly agrees to take Mowgli, knowing it will save his life. In the morning, Baloo and Mowgli begin to travel to the village, although Mowgli does not know where they are going. Baloo tries to break the news gently but becomes angry when Mowgli speaks ill of Bagheera. Mowgli then runs away heartbroken and bitter, and Baloo and Bagheera separate to find him. Baloo then regrets at what he done and he never forgives himself if something happened to Mowgli.
Baloo searches in the wasteland home of the vultures, and just in time, as Shere Khan and Mowgli are about to battle. Baloo grabs Khan's tail, holding him back a bit. The tiger spins in circles with Baloo holding on until they wrap around a tree where Shere Khan faces Baloo's behind and, in a fit of anger, takes a massive bite into Baloo's butt, causing him to cry out in pain. Soon, Shere Khan starts clawing him to death. Mowgli scares Khan away with fire, and when all seems well, darkness falls on Mowgli as Baloo lies unconscious and presumed dead. Just as Bagheera and Mowgli depart, Baloo awakens, revealing he is alive and reunites with Mowgli. During their trip back into the jungle, Mowgli becomes enchanted by a beautiful girl from the Man Village and follows the pretty maiden to the village. Baloo, initially imploring Mowgli to come back to him, eventually lets him go, and he and Bagheera return to the jungle, singing "The Bare Necessities" together.
Some time after the events of the first film, Baloo is seen in the jungle creating a dummy version of Mowgli. He attempts to sing with it but begins to realize, Mowgli is gone. Depressed, and anxious to see Mowgli, Baloo sneaks towards the Man-Village, only to be confronted by Bagheera and Colonel Hathi. They attempt to stop Baloo from going any farther, but the bear makes an escape with the help of Hathi's son.
That night, Baloo sneaks into the village and reunites with Mowgli. Unfortunately, Mowgli's sweetheart Shanti begins to panic at the sight of Baloo, a wild animal. The villagers rush to the scene, while Baloo and Mowgli escape to the jungle. Once in the safety of the jungle, Baloo is informed of the "tortured" life of the villagers. To steer away from the village life, Mowgli and Baloo reprise "The Bare Necessities". The next morning, Baloo is informed by Bagheera that the villagers are in the jungle searching for Mowgli. After Bagheera departs, Baloo and Mowgli head to King Louie's Palace, which to the jungle animals is a popular hot spot, to hide.
There, Baloo tells the animals of the "horrid" village. Mowgli begins to feel sorrow, showing that he misses his village and his girlfriend. At the mere mention of Shanti, Mowgli leaves the palace and heads into the jungle. Baloo goes out looking for him, and spots Mowgli reuniting with Shanti, accompanied by Mowgli's adoptive brother Ranjan. Earlier that day, Baloo and Mowgli had advised a plan to scare Shanti off if she happens to find them. Following the plan, Baloo proceeds to scare Shanti. She learns that Mowgli planned the scare and storms off.
Feeling angry and regretful for what Baloo had done, Mowgli rushes off the find Shanti and Ranjan. He finds them, but also finds Shere Khan. Mowgli and Shanti are pursued by the tiger while Ranjan hides. Ranjan runs into Baloo and alerts him of Shere Khan. Baloo and Shanti later put aside their differences and rush to the rescue, where they find themselves in the ancient ruins. Together, Baloo, Mowgli, and Shanti attempt to confuse Khan by banging on gongs, until Shanti's collapses. Khan heartens to kill Shanti unless Mowgli reveals himself. He follows Khan's orders, and a chase follows. Baloo tries to stop Khan to no avail, and the chase leads to an open lava pit. Khan, Mowgli, and Shanti begin to fall, but Baloo grabs Mowgli and Shanti while Khan falls into the pit, before Baloo bids a heartfelt farewell to Mowgli as he rejoins the village. The next day, however, it shows that Mowgli, Shanti, and Ranjan visit Baloo and Bagheera every day in the jungle. They dance off singing "The Bare Necessities".
Baloo is the protagonist of the TV series, along with being the pilot.
In this series, Baloo and other characters are in a world where animals wear clothing and live in large cities, much like the world of Mickey and Friends.
Baloo lives in Cape Suzette, where he ran his own air-freight shipping company, Baloo's Air Service. However, his business did not make many profits, and when it did, Baloo was often too forgetful to pay his bills or the mortgage. As a result, the bank foreclosed on Baloo's mortgage and repossessed his business. It was eventually purchased by a businesswoman named Rebecca Cunningham, who changes its name to Higher for Hire. However, she had a hard time finding a pilot until she saw the unemployed Baloo, and rehired him as the main pilot in his former business.
Baloo's best pal and foster son is a bear cub named Kit Cloudkicker, a former air pirate who used to work for Don Karnage and now serves as his co-pilot on the cargo plane, the Sea Duck. His strange, but incredibly ingenious, mechanic Wildcat takes care of all the equipment maintenance for Higher for Hire.
Baloo enjoys the good life and can often be found hanging out in his pal Louie's tropical cabana night club. Baloo is constantly troubled by the business tycoon Shere Khan, the air pirate Don Karnage and the crazed military hog Colonel Spigot, among others.
Although he still has claws on his toes like before, he has none on his fingers in the series.
Baloo appears as a young cub in the series. In the series, Baloo is best friends with Shere Khan, Kaa, Bagheera, King Louie and Hathi. Like his older self, Baloo is lazy, laid back, carefree and always looking for a good scratch. Baloo is often the leader of the group, although Shere Khan often tries to take the role instead. In the series, Baloo's all-time best friend is Prince Louie. Here, he has also light gray prints on his foot soles, which in his adult counterpart hasn't.
The origin of Baloo's favorite philosophy; "The Bare Necessities", was also revealed in the series's final episode "Sleepless in the Jungle". After a long day of worrying and pondering, Baloo was encouraged by his friends to relax and unwind for a bit, leading Baloo and the animals to sing his trademark number and revert to his laid-back self.
In the Jungle Cubs: Born to Be Wild DVD, Baloo, as an adult, Mowgli and Bagheera are making their way back to the Man Village. Like in the film, Baloo tried to convince Bagheera to let Mowgli stay; however, Bagheera denies because of the danger of Khan. Along the way, they meet up with the old gang and reminisce about their past adventures. Ed Gilbert reprises his role from TaleSpin.
Baloo makes several, non-speaking appearances in the animated series. In the opening, he is seen talking with Little John.
In "Jiminy Cricket", he is seen sitting at a table with Kaa, Shere Khan, Mowgli, and Bagheera.
In "The Stolen Cartoons", he is temporarily seen in the background.
In "Not So Goofy", after Baloo was finished with his banana, he tossed it on the ground and Goofy nearly tripped over it.
In "Goofy's Menu Magic", Baloo is one of the many guests to openly enjoy Goofy's magical soup. Later after a mishap with it, however, Baloo and the other guests demand Goofy never to make the soup again.
In Mickey's House of Villains, Baloo was one of the many heroes trapped in the kitchen when the Disney Villains took over the House of Mouse on Halloween. In the end, he and everyone else cheered for Mickey after he defeated Jafar and the other villains. Baloo also appeared in Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse.
Cameos and other appearances
In the episode "When Chaos Comes Calling" of Aladdin, Genie turns into Baloo and flies in the skies of Agrabah with the Zingalow. In this scene, he also transforms Jasmine into Rebecca Cunningham, Abu in King Louie and Iago in Kit Cloudkicker. These transformations here are a reference to TaleSpin.
In The Lion King 1½, Baloo made a non-speaking cameo in the form of a silhouette during the finale of the film with Mowgli and several other Disney characters in watching the movie again with Timon and Pumbaa.
In the 1994 live-action Disney film, Baloo, like all the other animals featured, does not speak. He first meets Mowgli as a bear cub when Mowgli finds him trapped inside a broken log. Mowgli frees him and they become fast friends.
Years later, Baloo has grown into an adult bear and is seen running with an adult Mowgli and his adult pet wolf, Grey Brother. He is later seen eating honey out of an upset beehive. Later, when Mowgli is reunited with his childhood sweetheart Kitty Brydon, Baloo appears and playfully wrestles with Mowgli when the latter pretends to save her life. After scaring off a few British soldiers who were harassing Mowgli, and whom one of them accidentally shot Mowgli on the arm, Baloo is seen lying down with Mowgli and Grey Brother while he and Grey Brother are being caressed by Mowgli.
A few days later, after Mowgli has learned the ways of men and re-entered civilization thanks to Kitty and Dr. Julius Plumford, Baloo is seen being caressed and introduced to Kitty by Mowgli along with all the rest of Mowgli's jungle animal friends. Baloo and the other animals watch as Kitty teaches Mowgli some dancing lessons, much to their amusement.
In a later tussle against soldiers working for Captain William Boone, the main villain, Baloo is shot and left for dead, but Mowgli finds him and locates Dr. Julius Plumford to save his life.
In the final scene, after Boone's defeat, Dr. Plumford is revealed to have successfully healed Baloo and is seen standing with the bear beside a waterfall.
Baloo appears in the live-action 2016 film, voiced by Bill Murray. In this version, he is depicted as a Himalayan brown bear (though in the film he is clearly stated to be a sloth bear by Bagheera). He is also somewhat wiser compared to his 1967 counterpart, although still laid-back like him.
Baloo first appears in the film as Mowgli is about to be devoured by Kaa. Baloo fights her off and carries Mowgli to safety. Baloo then tells him of how he saved Mowgli from Kaa before saying that he owes Baloo for saving him. He then persuades a reluctant Mowgli into gathering honey for him from the top of a cliff under the pretense of needing it for winter so he can hibernate and since he is afraid of heights too. As they spend time together, Mowgli and Baloo bond, and use their combined power (Mowgli's innovative tricks and Baloo's strength) to obtain things easily. Mowgli then decides to stay with Baloo until winter, especially when Baloo tells him that Mowgli can be himself and remain in the jungle after showing him a man village one night.
When Bagheera returns to find Mowgli, he is angry to find that Mowgli has decided to stay with Baloo and is using his inventions as opposed to living as the wolves who raised him to do. A heated debate ensues with everyone agreeing to sleep on the subject of Mowgli returning to the Man-village for morning. During the night, Baloo and Bagheera witness Mowgli form a bond with the elephants, whom all the other jungle creatures avoid or bow to, after saving their calf. After, he and Bagheera converse about Mowgli's situation, the death of the wolf Akela (Mowgli's wolf leader) and that Shere Khan is hunting him. Thus, reluctantly, Baloo tries to send Mowgli away by telling him that they were never friends, which greatly hurts Baloo. Before Mowgli can decide on what he wants to do, monkeys, macaques, langurs, and gibbons commanded by King Louie kidnap him. Baloo and Bagheera give chase and climb to the monkey temple to rescue Mowgli, despite Baloo's fear of heights. Baloo then enters the temple and distracts King Louie while Bagheera and Mowgli try to sneak out. When they are discovered, Baloo and Bagheera fight the monkeys off while Mowgli hides from Louie. After Louie is seemingly killed by the collapsing temple, Mowgli asks on the fate of Akela, revealed to him by Louie, and angrily decides to run away and face Shere Khan when he finds out that it is true.
Baloo and Bagheera quickly give chase to find Mowgli returning to face Shere Khan with a burning torch, which accidentally starts a wildfire. When he throws the torch away and Shere Khan readies to attack, Baloo, Bagheera and Mowgli's wolf family led by his adoptive mother, Raksha, intervene and fight him. In the battle that follows, Baloo is the first to attack the tiger, and fights bravely and fiercely until he is injured too much to fight any longer. However, his actions and those of Bagheera and the wolves buy Mowgli enough time to set a trap and kill Shere Khan. After the fire is put out and Raksha assumes the mantle of Alpha wolf, Baloo is seen relaxing with Mowgli and Bagheera in a tree, content with Mowgli's choice to be a human and still live in the jungle.
Baloo has appeared in a few video games over the years including the video game adaption to his film, appropriately titled The Jungle Book.
Baloo is the star of the TaleSpin games. This game involves the adventures of Baloo and Kit, two bears delivering cargo for Rebecca, another bear. However, Shere Khan, the evil tiger tycoon, wants to put Rebecca out of business, so he hires pirates, led by Don Karnage, to do his dirty work. In the NES and Gameboy games, Baloo has to deliver his cargo across the world while fighting the pirates who are trying to stop him. In the Sega game, Baloo and Kit face up against Shere Khan's company in a contest to earn a lifetime work contract from the city. This is a platformer for up to two players. In the TurboGrafx game, Louie tells Baloo of an ancient artifact, the pieces of which are scattered across the road.
Baloo appears in the game playing the exact role as the film. However, upon meeting Mowgli for the first time, he becomes attached to him a lot faster and decides to keep him in the jungle as a cub immediately.
When the player visits him early in the game, Baloo is waiting for Mowgli to return when he grows an appetite. Knowing he should stay at his spot to wait for Mowgli, Baloo asks the player to find him some papaws for him to eat (which can be found in the Jungle Cruise mini-game). Right after that, Baloo asks if the player can show-off some of the talents they've learned to liven things up in the area by using the magic wand from Cinderella.
Later on, Baloo becomes curious of how man-cubs catch fish. Using the fishing rod from Stinky Pete, the player catches a few fish and feeds them to Baloo. Right after, Baloo asks if the player can teach Mowgli how to fish like a man-cub. After the task is complete, the player learns from Mowgli that Baloo's bananas for lunch were stolen by the monkeys. The player recovers the bananas and returns them to Baloo, much to his delight.
Baloo appeared as a townsperson in the 2.0 edition of the game. He is also a playable character for Disney INFINITY 3.0, and the figure was released on March 15, 2016, and he requires an online patch that makes him playable in the game.
A costume of Baloo is available as an add-on download in the video game Disney Universe.
In Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, Baloo makes an appearance in the Dahl Engineering Corridors.
One of Baloo's most prominent roles at the parks was in the Plane Crazy stage show that ran at Disneyland as part of Disney Afternoon Avenue in 1991. In the stage show, he is recruited along with Chip 'n' Dale and Launchpad McQuack to recover the X-22 spy jet when it is stolen by Don Karnage and Fat Cat. (It should be noted, though, that while TaleSpin has been established to be set in the same fictional universe as DuckTales and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, it actually takes place about fifty years before those two shows, so this crossover is likely non-canon).
An oversized statue of Baloo is featured at Disney's Pop Century Resort.
He also meets in Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
In the Tokyo DisneySea version of Fantasmic!, Baloo appears in the jungle sequence as a large inflatable figure on one of the barges. Baloo probably sometimes appears at Tokyo Disneyland as a meetable character as well.
In Paris, Baloo appears at the very end of Louie's segment in Disney Dreams!, "I Wanna Be Like You", scatting and dancing with Louie just as they did in the film.
He also meets in Adventureland very often.
Baloo can be seen with Mowgli in the Hong Kong Disneyland version of It's a Small World.
In Disney's Believe, Baloo is one of the "magic makers" to take part in the show on board the Disney Dream. Here, Baloo is the first magic maker to use the mystic elements of the jungle. Baloo performs "The Bare Necessities" to the busy-body father to help his imagination grow for the sake of his daughter's happiness.
- Walt Disney was used as a reference for the dance moves seen when Baloo is introduced in The Jungle Book.
- Baloo's full name was given as Baloo Bear or Baloo von Bruinwald XIII in TaleSpin.
- In the 1994 film, Baloo is played by an American black bear.
- In the 2016 film, Bagheera acknowledges that Baloo is a sloth bear. However, his statement is inaccurate as Baloo rather resembles a Himalayan brown bear (a species of bear which is not native to the Seoni area, where the story takes place) than a sloth bear.
- Even though Mowgli is the star, Baloo and the other animals are promoted more than the man cub.
- Baloo actually means "bear" in Hindi, so in a way, Baloo is named after his own species.
- Baloo bears a striking resemblance to Little John from Disney's Robin Hood, who were both voiced by Phil Harris, who also gave the voice of Thomas O'Malley from Disney's The Aristocats.
- Baloo and Little John perform the same dance moves with King Louie in The Jungle Book and with Lady Kluck in Robin Hood, complete with recycled animation.
- Interestingly, Baloo was originally designed with brown fur, as shown in one production cel and original theatrical release posters of the film.
- Although Baloo's species mainly eats plants, they are known to be aggressive, and also the bear species that has the greatest tendency to kill people. Ironically, it is an interesting comparison with a real sloth bear and the fun-loving, completely harmless Baloo.
- Interestingly, in the original books by Rudyard Kipling, Baloo is the polar opposite of his cartoon counterpart. In the Disney version, Baloo is laid-backed, wacky, free-spirited and is rarely serious. While in the original books, Baloo is incredibly strict, humourless, stiff and very knowledgeable. In fact, he shares more traits with Disney's Bagheera than Disney's Baloo.
- When Bagheera was saying his speech about Baloo, he wished his mother heard it, hinting that she is deceased.
- Aside from King Louie, Baloo is the only animal character to walk on two legs in the film.
- There is a bear in the "Say It with a Slap" sequence from Bongo that highly resembles Baloo. This is most likely because Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston were animators for that scene, and there is a possibility that the bear was a prototype of Baloo.
- Bill Murray, who voices Baloo in the 2016 film, is the younger brother of Brian Doyle-Murray, who also voiced Baloo in The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story. In short, both Murray brothers had voiced Baloo in two different live-action Jungle Book projects.
- Baloo is visibly afraid of Shere Khan; as real tigers eat sloth bears, this is not surprising.
- ↑ "The Bare Necessities: The making of The Jungle Book" featurette
- ↑ What We Know So Far, Recent Figures, Internet Required, And Who Will Be In The Battlegrounds Play Set?
- ↑ "August-22nd-Kingdom-Hearts-Unchained-English-Update-The-Jungle-Book". KH Insider (August 22, 2016).