The Jungle Cruise

The Jungle Cruise

This 2021 movie is available in theaters as well as via Disney+ and depending on your circumstances either choice could lead to a well enjoyable evening with friends and family. The movie stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt both of whom are seasoned professionals capable of contributing quite a bit to a film that has a wonderfully predictable plot.

The Jungle Cruise movie is a very loose adaptation of the Jungle Cruise ride which appears at Disney Theme Parks. The attraction is a simulated riverboat cruise that travels along a waterway using a concealed guidance system through areas with Asian, African, and South American themes. Park guests board replica steam launches from a 1930s British explorers’ lodge, and Audio-Animatronic jungle animals are displayed throughout the ride. A live Disney cast member acts as a tour guide and boat skipper that loosely follows a rehearsed script, providing passengers with a comedic narrative.

Over the years several now-famous actors have served as Jungle Cruise skippers including, Kevin Costner, Steve Martin, and Robin Williams. The loose script derives its comedy from puns and what are best described today as dad-jokes. Now, thanks to this film Dwayne Johnson can similarly claim his skipper alumni status.

The film integrates the attraction’s whit as well as several of the animatronic characters/scenes into the plot of the film. You get to see the backside of water!The film, and the attraction are not to be taken seriously, but that doesn’t detract from enjoying the piece unless you missed the fact that it’s a popcorn movie on your way to be coming a writer for the New York Times. Or if you expected something more serious of the attraction in the Disney park.

Johnson and Blunt pull of the romantic requirements of the plot. I felt like this significantly extended Johnson’s range from what I’ve seen in previous movies without stretching it so thin in becomes unbelievable. Blunt is a pro, attractive on film, and genuinely appears to have had fun playing the character who can pick locks, and stare down her opposition. As a father of daughters I think she does a good job managing all of the aspects of our modern interpretation of feminine expectations and empowerment. Thanks for being a good example.

I couldn’t help but think of the Indiana Jones movies. Initially set between the two world wars they hearken back to an age where adventure and exploration was still a part of this planet. Today it’s described as leaving it. The film is set in 1916 and has several flashbacks to Spanish conquistadors approximately 400 years prior. This makes it a much less polished presentation than the Indy series from my youth. In both cases there is a German villain. This was the most disconcerting trope of the whole piece. I understand why it makes sense from a writing point of view, but having lived in Germany for 11 years I’ve learned that history has significantly more depth than what is often shown in popcorn movies. I would have preferred a more fictional villain.

Aside from my personal experience I don’t think anything on screen detracts from how simply delightful of a popcorn movie this really is. As a guy who’s binged watched a lot of predictable Hallmark-esque movies this is certainly among that genre (with a few unexpected tweaks). It’s worth buying on Disney+, going to the theaters if you’re hungering for popcorn, or waiting until it’s on Disney+ later this year as part of the regular subscription.

Regardless of when or where you choose to consume it I don’t think you’re regret it. You could say that if you’re feeling in the mood to escape, why not take a Jungle Cruise?

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