“Oobee doo! I wanna be like you! I wanna walk like you, talk like you, too. You’ll see it’s true—an ape like me can learn to be human too!”

While some of the story has been changed or updated since the 60s, one thing you absolutely can look forward to in the new Jungle Book is a snazzy rendition of the song, “I Wanna Be Like You,” sung by King Louie, the ape who wants to be human. Where in the old Disney movie King Louie was an orangutan, in the new version he takes on the form of a Gigantopithecus, a massive orangutan-looking ape that went extinct thousands of years ago. Voiced by Christopher Walken, the new King Louie is also considerably more sinister than the bubbly, sometimes inconsiderate Louie of old. Despite these differences, the points of interest for philosophical fodder remain as interesting as ever: Louie, who wants to be a human, reminds us of our unending desire to be better or different than what and who we are.

I wonder if it ever goes away–the untiring hunch that we have not fully become who we are meant to be and that we can control who we are and how we feel about ourselves. Comparison—which is also inevitable, it seems–doesn’t help. We like to rank ourselves–our jobs and spouses and alma maters. The small talk question, “What do you do?” often translates to “What is your value, in relation to mine?”

When we measure up, we like to find people that we can beat, and we thrive off the affirmation that in certain areas we rank higher than others. But sooner or later, as we stack our chips, we inevitably find others whose stacks are higher. In The Jungle Book, this is where we find King Louie. In the old version, he sings, “Oh, I’m the king of swingers, the jungle VIP. I’ve reached the top and had to stop, and that’s what’s bothering me. I wanna be a man, mancub…” King Louie feels he has maxed out his potential, and he believes that he deserves to be more and that, with enough effort, he will become more. In times like this, we get moody or desperate and irrational—Louie, for example, kidnaps Mowgli thinking that the “mancub” might help him reach his full potential.

King Louie’s kingdom is ruled by, in Augustine’s words, the “lust of rule.” Louie lurks among the ruins of an old human temple, and it’s his desire for total mastery that turns him into a villain. The trick of this controlling impulse is that it backfires—we are controlled by our desire to control. In a similar way, King Louie is ruled by his desire to surpass his limits.

He buys into a two-pronged delusion. First, that, as a monkey, he can be human. Second, that, by possessing a thing (in his case, the “red flower”—fire), he will be able to surpass his limits. We tend to think that material objects, or more generally third parties, can help us achieve the impossible. For example, we think that once we finally get around to buying a gym membership, then it will be easier than ever to get fit. Or, once we have stylish jeans, we will feel more like the person we are meant to be. It doesn’t help that technology lures us into this kind of thinking—while we have the Internet in our pockets, we are invincible: we won’t get lost, we won’t get lonely. We can listen to any music, any time. At the end of the day, though, fire or no fire, King Louie will still be a Gigantopithecus, not a human, and we will still be humans with a spinning anxiety in our tummies. And this anxiety makes us realize we aren’t perfect–it’s what leads us to compare and rank.

One response to the Louie Dilemma is what the majority of edgy secular culture will tell us: Louie needs to sit back and think, “Hey, I’m a monkey, and I’m proud of it!” Maybe we should try to force ourselves to believe that, even though we are not who we want to be, we are perfect anyways. Christianity, however, is a religion that offers a different answer, to which we might only turn when we find that self-refocusing doesn’t work.

Christianity offers relief from the idea that we need to tell ourselves that we are perfect and acceptable when we know that we are not. Grace relieves us of trying to convince ourselves that we actually like our zits or awkward social habits. What this religion offers is an external voice who says that we are perfect, even when we can’t see that we are. And, for clarity, we are imperfect, miserably so: Seeing this, and given the choice between envy and acceptance, we will always choose envy even if we know that acceptance will bring us freedom. So freedom, if we are to have it, needs to come from something other than ourselves, who fail constantly. King Louie can’t accept himself as he is; he needs to be told that he’s already loved. Unfortunately his monkey minions don’t seem to speak English.

Jon Favreau (who directed the new Jungle Book, and also Elf) explained that the new Louie was born out of limitations: knowing that a successful movie would have to be as realistic as possible, and also knowing that orangutans don’t exist in the Indian jungles, they decided to transform Louie into the intimidating Gigantopithecus in order to continue the legacy. Favreau explained at EW:“It was one of those things where me creating limitations and actually wanting to deviate from the original opened up the opportunity to allow all these other artists — musical and visual, character designers and WETA — to pull this stuff all together to make this sequence that is now an exhilarating action set piece at the heart of the film.” This is a somewhat glorious example—”the limitations of Favreau’s artistic vision magically create a swinging dance number”—and so this is not to say that our limitations will turn us hungry caterpillars into beautiful butterflies, but it is to say that limitations have a strange way of taking center stage whether we want them to or not.

For Christians, the cross is the ultimate limitation, where Christ was restrained by nails and left to die. Christianity doesn’t therefore encourage us to gain control of ourselves and progress into something new and better; rather, it tells the story of a God who succumbs to limitations and proclaims, “It is finished.” Here we have yet another limit: the story has ended, The Jungle Book closes. We are no longer writing our stories, because the story has been written. Now we get to monkey around.