Jungledyret Hugo is a Danish media franchise featuring the cartoon adventures of an anthropomorphic mammal named Hugo. Created by Danish author and filmmaker Flemming Quist Møller and produced at A. Film A/S, the franchise currently consists of two animated features, an animated television series, and a third film done in CGI.
The first two films were translated, edited, and released in the United States on a single DVD in 2005 by Miramax. The third film is set to be released on region 1 DVD on August 12, 2014 under the title "Amazon Jack"
The original films are known in various locales under different translated names, including Jungledyret, Jungledyret Hugo, Skógardýrið Húgó, Amazon Jack, Jungle Jack, The Great Adventures of Jungle Jack, The Bear and the Vixen, Go Hugo Go, Hugo the Movie Star, Jungo, and recently seen as "Hugo" and "Hugo II". The final film's original title is "Fræk Flabet og fri" which translates to "Frank, cheeky, and free".
This film introduces us to Hugo, an apparently one-of-a-kind anthropomorphic animal who lives in a jungle. Youthful and carefree, Hugo is prone to playing practical jokes on his friends, Zig and Zag the monkeys. His idyllic lifestyle is interrupted when he is captured by CEO of a famed movie company, Conrad Cupmann, to be co-star in a Hollywood-style film. In order to return from Copenhagen to his jungle home, he must escape with the help of a newly found friend, Rita the fox.
In this film, the animated depiction of Hugo is reminiscent of Don Bluth's style of animation; other animated films from A. Film A/S also share this kind of animation, such as Help! I'm a Fish. According to Jungledyret fans, the cats featured in the film's appearance are similar to that of the characters from Felidae, despite having a more non-violent and quite animated (cartoony) appearance. The Miramax English version titled this film Go, Hugo, Go!, and is five minutes shorter than its original release.
Jungledyret 2 - den store filmhelt (1996)
Still a musical, but more of a drama than the first film, with themes of friendship and loyalty.
The sequel picks up where the first movie left off. Hugo and Rita each tell their friends about how much they miss one another. Meanwhile, the CEO of the movie studio still wants to catch him. His plan is to have Hugo co-star in a film, and then earn lots of money through merchandising.
The English version titled this film Hugo the Movie Star (or Hugo 2: The Movie Star), an almost literal translation of the Danish title. A montage of the first film was put during Rita's song at the beginning of the film. Two TV networks in Denmark, TV2, and in Finland, YLE, collaborated to make this film.
2005 Miramax dub (United States)
In 2005, Miramax released a translated, edited edition of the two animated films. Released directly to stores without publicity, the disc has no special features. The first film in the release was criticized for its awkward voice acting, altered music, poor translation and some scenes have been cut down or removed.
Jungledyret 3 - Fræk Flabet og fri (2007)
The third film continues where the animated series left off, which in turn is a sequel to the second movie. It is a CGI film. The plot again involves Hugo being captured, this time by several competing groups of humans who are all after Hugo for their own reasons.
The animated series
In 2002, the franchise was made into an animated TV-series. It follows the adventures of Hugo and Rita, as they search for a home for the two of them, where they can live in peace and away from any humans that are trying to catch Hugo.
It begins where the second movie left off, with Hugo and Rita on the train they jumped on near the end of the second movie. Hugo's plan is to return to his jungle with Rita, promising her they can live in peace there. During their journey, General Maximus, ruler of Junglandia and Hugo's home, hears about Hugo and decides to capture Hugo, whose species is the symbol of Junglandia. Eventually, Hugo and Rita are caught and brought to General Maximus, but the duo manage to escape and they arrive in the jungle. At first, Rita has a hard time adapting to the life in the jungle and all the predators, but with the help from Hugo and his fellow jungle animals, she decides to "give it a try".
For a time, Hugo and Rita live in the jungle, but as the rainy season comes, Hugo and Rita end up being flushed out of the jungle, and are once again being hunted by General Maximus. Fortunately, Hugo and Rita find Meatball Charlie, and he manages to get them away from the General. Hugo and Rita then stay with Meatball Charlie for a while, while planning their next move. Eventually, they end up working in a circus. There, Hugo and Rita meet a tomte, who promises that in return for Hugo and Rita helping him to the North Pole and the Santa Claus's castle, he will teach them how to be invisible. Rita is sceptical about the tomte's magic, but Hugo convinces her that if they could learn how to be invisible, no one could catch them again.
Eventually, they make it to the North Pole, but Hugo and Rita are left behind in the blizzard, as the tomte leaves. As they fall asleep, Hugo and Rita are once again caught, this time by scientists that believe Hugo is an unknown arctic animal. Thanks to help from Meatball Charlie, Hugo and Rita manage to escape the research facility, and General Maximus, who was once again back on Hugo's track. Meatball Charlie then decides that, in order to keep Hugo safe from people hunting him, he buys a house on an island in the middle of a lake in Denmark where Hugo, Rita, and himself can live in peace and freedom. There, Hugo and Rita chose to stay, with Meatball Charlie acting as their "guardian", up until the third film.
13 episodes of 24 minutes were produced, and originally aired 2002-2003.
In the Jungledyret films, many animals talk to each other, but humans can't understand them. This is a standard conceit, seen in such films as Balto.
Hugo is a young, rare, apparently unique, fictional mammal of the previously unknown species Hugus Primiticus. His parents are never mentioned. He looks something like a living teddy bear (or a koala), and has yellow fur. In the second film, he mentions to a pig that he only has a summer coat.
He has prehensile (grasping) hands, each with three fingers and a thumb. He has large, fuzzy ears, and human-like feet with four toes. He is bipedal, though he can run in a quadrupedal manner for speed. He can use tools such as levers and skateboards, and can outwit other animals, such as snakes, cats, and squirrels. He is noted for his cleverness, his kind heart, his love of food, his bragging, his mischievousness, and the occasional bout of childish selfishness. He eats mostly fruits and loves bananas (though he is omnivorous, as he won't shy away from eating meatballs). His most feared living specimen of all, of course, is humanity (except for Meatball Charlie).
- Rita the fox
Rita is a young red fox who befriends Hugo on the streets of Copenhagen. She and Hugo quickly become best friends. She's kind, streetwise, spunky, and has a decent amount of common sense—unlike Hugo, who is rather impulsive. She lived with her mother and her two little brothers and one little sister in a den near some railroad tracks, until the second movie, where she escaped alongside Hugo from Cupmann. Her father is never mentioned. A romance between Hugo and Rita is hinted and even implied on the first two films, but the later animated series and third film dimmed down this element to the point where it was only mentioned on a few occasions.
- Meatball Charlie
Charlie is the cook aboard the cargo ship that transports Hugo to Copenhagen. He finds Hugo, who has escaped the cargo hold, and at the end of the voyage, donates him to the city zoo. He appears toward the end of the first film, and is not present in the second. Though, in the animated series, he appears once again, helping Hugo and Rita on numerous occasions, and in the third film, he makes several appearances, nearly coming off as part of the main character cast. Hugo mentions that Meatball Charlie is probably his and Rita's only "human" friend.
In the original Danish production, Meatball Charlie is named Dellekaj (a mixture of "Delle" which is slang for frikadelle, a special kind of Danish meatball and Kaj which is a common Danish name) and was voiced by Jesper Klein who also voices Hugo and Marcel Jeannin in the English dub.
- Conrad Cupmann
Conrad is a main antagonist in the first two films (he started out as a secondary antagonist in the first film, but was later promoted to main antagonist in the second film). He owns a movie studio in Copenhagen, and dreams of making lots of money. He is morally bankrupt, willing to slash and burn the jungle to capture Hugo. His first relationship started off with Izabella Dehavalot, but he rejected her wishes and left her when Hugo manages to escape Copenhagen in the first film. His second relationship is with Barbie Turner, but instead, he is rejected by her, since she did not want him hurting Hugo. He is voiced by Mark Camacho in the English dub.
- Generalissimo Maximillion Maximus
Generalissimo Maximillion Maximus, or better known as General Maximus, is one of the series most recurrent major antagonists (and an antagonist in the third film). He is the ruler of the recently founded fictional nation "Junglandia"- the country where Hugo originates from. The symbol of Junglelandia is General Maximus' coat of arms, which depicts the same species as Hugo and, since Hugo is the rarest animal in the world, General Maximus is always seeking Hugo, both to have him as a symbol of the nation and in order to gain a world famous reputation. He has a low moral set, promising a great reward to the ones who gets Hugo, but he will not always keep his promises, either cheating them, or will later break his promises, and displays a ruthless determination in order to capture him.
- Izabella Dehavalot
Izabella is a black-haired starlet with a sharp figure. She is also the wife of Conrad Cupmann and the primary antagonist in the first film. Her goal is to gain notoriety through the exploitation of an animal co-star; she cites several fictional actors, and then her "good friend Michael" and his chimp. Upon the discovery of Hugo, Izabella brightens at the idea of using him as her co-star and stops at nothing to capture him. Conrad divorced her in the time span between the two films, after she becomes obsessed to the point of madness over capturing Hugo. In all European versions, she is called Izabella Scorpio. She was voiced by Susan Glover in the English dub.
- Barbie Turner (Miss Sensuella)
Barbie is a stereotypical dumb blonde and, in the second film, is Cupmann Studio's new starlet. It is also implied that she is Conrad's lover. She often chews bubble gum, even on the sound stage. In the original version of the movie, her name is Sensuella. She was voiced by Jennifer Seguin in the English dub.
- Doctor Loongkoffer
Loongkoffer is an animal psychologist hired by Conrad in Jungledyret 2 to tame Hugo; unfortunately, he fails in his endeavor to tame Hugo. Making a return in Jungledyret 3, he has turned over a new leaf and wishes to keep Hugo safe. He is disgusted by Professor Strix's idea of cloning Hugo, fearing that Hugo would die in the experiments. His role is reminiscent of Animaniacs' Dr. Otto Scratchansniff, whose job was to civilize the Warner siblings. He was voiced by Arthur Grosser in the 2005 English dub.
- Professor Strix
Professor Strix is a mad scientist who appears in the last two episodes of the animated series. He is one of two scientists who believe Hugo is an unknown arctic animal. He runs a professional research facility. In the third movie, he makes a comeback and tried to eradicate Hugo, make multiple copies of Hugo and sell them all around the world. He is very heartless, as he was willing to kill Hugo in an effort to make clones of him.
- The Jungle Dog
A small jungle dog pup that Hugo and Rita encounter in the third movie. Rita discovers the pup when she hides in a hollow log near the Jungle Dog's nest area. The pup mistakes Rita for its mother and Rita (presuming the pup was abandoned by its real mother) takes it under her wing. Before the movie's release, some fans mistook the pup to be Hugo and Rita's child.
Bowdlerization in the English version
The films have some content which might be considered unsuitable by United States viewers, considering the films are mainly directed to children. Because of this, Miramax made several edits and cuts when dubbing the films to English.
In the first film, when Hugo is sleeping on a ship, a calendar above him displays a picture of a naked woman. The image was blurred in the Miramax dub. A scene where Hugo is shocked three times by telephone wires and climbs up a brick wall to find, through a window, a man changing channels on a television was cut from the dub. Another scene where Rita spits at the floor where Hugo is standing as a sign of displeasure was also cut. The dub also toned down the original's language and removed some of Izabella's racial remarks about an Indian character, and the scene near the end of the film when Izabella becomes insane with her obsession was cut.
In the second film, most edits were limited to dialogue alterations, but two scenes where Conrad is seen grabbing the buttocks of Sensuella/Barbie Turner were cut. Also, apparently for time, a scene where Hugo and Rita are on a train after escaping from Conrad's henchmen and guard dogs was shortened; in the original Hugo hugs Rita before the screen goes to black due to a scene change, but in the English dub the screen goes to black before Hugo hugs Rita.
Also, the music for both films was heavily redone in the English dub, mainly replacing dramatic instrumental or jazz-based music from the original films with more upbeat and friendly melodies.