The Reel Review
Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson star in this Disney action/adventure film based on the iconic Disney theme park ride. The WWI-era story is about a female explorer (Blunt) and her brother who hire an opportunistic Amazon River boat captain (Johnson) to help them find a rare tree with magical, healing properties.
The film has the feel of a goofy mashup of Tomb Raider, Pirates of the Caribbean and Raiders of the Lost Ark – there is even an evil Nazi officer played by a hilarious Jesse Plemons (Game Night, Judas and the Black Messiah). Featuring the puns and intentionally corny dad jokes told by skippers on the theme park ride, Jungle Cruise has a gleeful, adventurous vibe, with a setting that looks plucked straight from the ride itself. Blunt and Johnson, who have great onscreen chemistry, are fun to watch, and Jack Whitehall (Bad Education) is pretty funny as the snooty dandy of a brother.
Basing a film on an amusement park ride is no small feat, and the film’s writers do an admirable job crafting an interesting supernatural story helmed by action director Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows, Non-Stop). The biggest drawbacks are a cruise that figuratively starts to run out of gas by the third act, and as such, relies on a frustrating amount of CGI. But for silly, lighthearted entertainment, Jungle Cruise fits the bill, and offers some nice nostalgia for those familiar with the ride.
• Disney has been updating their Jungle Cruise rides at their U.S. theme parks in conjunction with the release of this film. Walt Disney’s ride was inspired by 1951 Humphrey Bogart-Katherine Hepburn movie, The African Queen.
• Jungle Cruise is the third movie made about a Disney theme park ride, after Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion.
• Jungle Cruise initially was slated for an October 2019 release but was postponed to July 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, then postponed again to July 2021 due to the pandemic.