Pirates of the Caribbean made Disney tons of money as a movie franchise based on a ride at Disneyworld. Jungle Cruise is another popular ride where you are on a boat guided through the amazon while the captain of the ship tells endless puns. I love puns! Jungle Cruise, the film, is set in 1916 when ‘collecting’ artifacts from around the world to bring them back to England was acceptable. It is also a time where a woman in pants was a crazy thing and the film does not let you forget it.
Dwayne Johnson plays the boat guide, Frank, Emily Blunt is the treasure hunter Lily, and Jack Whitehall is Lily’s brother MacGregor. Jesse Plemons is a German prince and takes the place of the evil arch-nemesis out for the same treasure with better financing. If this sounds like The Mummy, National Treasure, or Indiana Jones, you are right. The action and adventure genre is somewhat formulaic. That formula is usually entertaining as is the case here. The film spends just the right amount of time tying into the ride at Disney before making a left turn and heading further upstream.
2:07 is a longer run time than you might expect for this film, but it does a good job of justifying the length. I did not get too many franchise vibes from this film as the story felt like most loose ends were tied up. Disney has not been great at representation in its films. There is a token gesture with MacGregor that did not go very far. The adventure cruise starts in a tourist city populated by white people in South America. Some of the cringier elements of the jungle cruise ride like shrunken heads are still present. Dwayne Johnson is a pacific islander, but there are not that many people of color despite the film’s location. Even for something set in 1916, Disney did not do enough.
I enjoyed this film, it made me laugh. It dug up some of the memories I have from a few different trips to Disneyworld and Disneyland. The ride was a good starting place for an action and adventure film and I think it was well executed. Disney needs to work on representation in its films. It keeps taking half steps but never fully commits. Jungle Cruise is another half step forward.