Watching Disney’s Jungle Cruise last night, even though the film does have some entertaining moments, I found the experience underwhelming. The House Of Mouse’s blanket marketing campaign has attempted to create a lot of hype surrounding the film and its cast, and while they are competent in their roles, no performance stands out in my mind in this. Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson, known as the franchise saver, to me, never lives up to his hype either. It seems no matter what the role is. You get the rock. Meaning he never seems to lose himself in a role, and it almost always seems he’s playing himself. There are some roles he’s great in, and others he’s less well suited for. Because of this, as a character actor, he’s pretty limited and not always great.
There’s very little in the way of original thinking here. It’s almost as if this is one of those stories created by committee, with somewhat predictable and cliched characters. If I had to narrow it down to my chief complaint about this film, it would seem so contrived. From the plot to the Rock’s intentionally bad dad jokes, the film’s following the recent trend of pandering to the LGBTQ community by making one of the film’s lead characters by making him gay, to the action scenes, it all feels contrived. Even the big plot twist is borrowed from another Disney franchise and is not enough to save this film from seeming like it was intended for an audience in the 12-15 years old age group.
It’s not as if Disney had to reinvent the wheel here. There are plenty of more successful attempts at marrying high adventure with a slowly developing romance they could have easily used as a reference here. It’s not a sub-genre lacking in examples that were executed better, both writing and acting-wise. Films like 1951s The African Queen Humphrey Bogart’s and Kathryn Hepburn’s tour de force is probably the best example that comes to mind. You could also include 1984s Romancing The Stone and even 1999s The Mummy. Even though Jungle Cruise borrows ideas from all of these films, plus a couple of more, those films did a more memorable job telling a story infused with adventure, mystery, and romance.
Not familiar with this title? Jungle Cruise is a 2021 American fantasy adventure film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra from a screenplay written by Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, and Michael Green, based on Walt Disney’s theme park attraction the same name. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, the film stars Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Édgar Ramírez, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons, and Paul Giamatti. It follows the captain of a small riverboat who takes a group of travelers through a jungle searching for the Tree of Life.
The film’s cast, played by some of Hollywood’s currently most well-regarded actors, are put into two-dimensional and cliched roles that contribute towards making this film feel almost cartoonish at times.
Who would have thought that basing a movie on n amusement park attraction would result in an even less inspired film than basing a film on a video game? Unfortunately, that seems to be the case here. It’s too bad high adventure is one of my favorite genres of storytelling. While it’s not a complete waste of time and money, this film is not what it holds the promise to be. I hope the kids at least enjoy this movie.