Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Edgar Ramírez
Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, Josh Goldstein
In this new attempt at adapting a classic Disneyland ride, ‘Jungle Cruise’ begins with Lily and MacGegor Houghton (Emily Blunt & Jack Whitehall) about to embark on an expedition to find a fabled tree. They enlist the help of Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson), a terrible joke-telling river boat captain, to lead them from the evil Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons). Prince Joachim is also after this tree and will stop at nothing to find it, but can Lily and Frank get there before he does?
Disney has both a successful and not successful history when it comes to adapting their films from the Disneyland and Disneyworld theme park attractions. Pirates of The Caribbean was a smash hit that grossed $47 million in its opening weekend and made its way to $650 million worldwide, while Disney’s second attempt at a ride adaptation, ‘The Haunted Mansion’ made only about 1/4 of that profit and critically was seen as a letdown compared to the glowing remarks about Johnny Depp’s zany but lovable performance as Captain Jack Sparrow.
While I can’t say that ‘Jungle Cruise’ will usher in the fandom and sequels that ‘Pirates’ had, it’s certainly a swash-buckling adventure with fun chemistry between Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson, and an adventure-packed story that will land really well with parents and kids alike.
First, the chemistry between our leads is great. They have some fun improvisational moments together and any time they were just joking back and forth, I found that very charming. Jack Whitehall as Emily Blunt’s brother is great, too, and he does a lot with what he was given comedically speaking. Jesse Plemons is also as quirky as ever in his role and gets to chew up a lot of scenes.
The film also pays tribute to the ride mostly in the beginning and throughout in the spirit of Frank’s horrible puns and jokes. I loved this aspect of the film and thought it wasn’t heavy handed but fit in with the story they were trying to tell.
What might differentiate me from your take on the movie is its story and special effects. I had a fun time watching the movie, but at the same time, there’s a lot on the screen that we’ve already seen in subsequent films, but done better. Take the other villain in the film, Aguirre (Edgar Ramírez), a cursed man with a hidden past. If you look at his story arc, it’s just there to prop up Jesse Plemons’s character and doesn’t have enough time to fully flesh out his character, too.
With the special effects of this film already feeling dated, I also couldn’t help but think about how game-changing the effects were during ‘Pirates of the Carribean’, and it made me wish there was a little more time dedicated to enhancing the visual effects of ‘Jungle Cruise’.
Overall, ‘Jungle Cruise’ is a fun and kid-friendly film that I think will be great for families. If you go in expecting to have just a relaxing fun adventure, then this is the film for you this weekend!