What They Say:
Join fan favorites Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt for the adventure of a lifetime on Disney’s Jungle Cruise, a rollicking thrill-ride down the Amazon with wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff and intrepid researcher Dr. Lily Houghton. Lily travels from London, England to the Amazon jungle and enlists Frank’s questionable services to guide her downriver on La Quila—his ramshackle-but-charming boat. Lily is determined to uncover an ancient tree with unparalleled healing abilities—possessing the power to change the future of medicine. Thrust on this epic quest together, the unlikely duo encounters innumerable dangers and supernatural forces, all lurking in the deceptive beauty of the lush rainforest. But as the secrets of the lost tree unfold, the stakes reach even higher for Lily and Frank and their fate—and mankind’s—hangs in the balance.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It’s days like today when I wish I actually took notes during movies. Granted, my viewing of Disney’s latest “Jungle Cruise” (AKA: the latest theme park turned potential movie franchise from Disney) was in 4DX, where vibrating seats and LOTS of spraying water would make note taking a difficult task! Yet if I had notes, chances are I would have spent the last ten minutes looking at a blank page, knowing that I was going to write a review that would be positively lukewarm while giving it a better-than-average grade, and would be looking for reasons as to why this would be. When trying to figure out why I realized that it was the fact I saw it in 4DX (you know, the reason taking notes would have been difficult) might have played a huge role in this. After all, “Jungle Cruise” is based on a theme park ride from Disneyland. As such, there is an emphasis on the “movie experience” rather than the pacing, characters, or story structure.
Sure, one could pay $30 to see it on Disney+, but why deprive oneself of such a fun experience?! Whether it be 4DX, IMAX, or ScreenX, it feels like the gimmicks of the film played a huge role in why I had so much fun with it in the first place. Granted, the gimmicks can only go so far, which means the movie at the heart of this must still provide some level of entertainment (even if deep discussions are left at the door). In this regard “Jungle Cruise” sets sail to bring audiences on an adventure through the jungle and accomplishes that with swimming success. So confident am I in saying that that I managed to put three sea puns in one sentence! For this adventure, the skipper of the trip is Frank (Dwayne Johnson), who spends his days giving jungle tours with corny props and silly puns to an audience who is stuck between boredom and bewildered amusement. In some ways, this is exactly how people who ride to theme park attraction feel.
It doesn’t seem like a particularly inspiring way to make a living, but it’s what he knows, so he plods along despite the fact he always seems to be in debt and in fear of losing his boat. An opportunity arises for real money when a British woman with lots of it and spunk shows up needing a guide to go deep into the jungle. The purpose, of course, is because there may be a magical artifact that could be the secret to living forever! The woman – a scientist named Lily (Emily Blunt) – simply wants to be able to claim to be the discoverer of the greatest scientific discovery of all time (and get invited to an exclusive club for top scientists)! As for Frank…well, it’s a job. Also, the way he looks at a rare arrowhead that Lily carries around her neck suggests that he may know something about the legend of this fountain of youth….NAH, I’m sure that’s just a red herring and has NOTHING to do with the bigger story!
That said, there is a literal Nazi chasing the two across the jungle attempting to get it, so you never know…
Despite the fact that the story is so by-the-numbers you’re likely correctly guessing the twists and turns in your head as you read this, “Jungle Cruise” is simply too much fun to be concerned about that! Being based on a theme park attraction you want a movie like “Jungle Cruise” to focus on action, thrills, and humor. In all of these categories, “Jungle Cruise” is a more than satisfying ride! Sure, it gets to be a bit long near the end there, however, the movie rarely stops moving and is constantly throwing exciting things at the audience to distract themselves from the story. Johnson and Blunt are two of the most charismatic actors working in Hollywood today, and to see them work off one another is a lot of fun while they do family-friendly schtick while also making fun of sexism that may not be as outdated as the film wants to think it is.
Nothing about “Jungle Cruise” is poorly made by any means. Why, even the score by James Newton Howard seemed to be subtly paying tribute to John Williams score for the Indiana Jones movies! Despite the PG-13 rating, I think most kids will be fine watching it, and while there is nothing about the movie that is great there’s nothing about it that’s dumb either. Basically, this is Disney making a two-and-a-half-hour theme park ride, and on that level I more than recommend it! Unless you view it on Disney+, which seems to be missing the point. On the other hand…I suppose you can make your own squirt water bottles at home, so…
Streamed By: Disney+