Jungle Cruise is the best film based on a Disney park attraction without Pirates of the Caribbean in the title. Even though the movie is basically Pirates of the Caribbean on a riverboat. Although Jungle Cruise was developed as far back as 2004, it didn’t come out nearly as fast as The Country Bears, The Haunted Mansion, or the aforementioned pirate franchise. Since I’ve still yet to attend a Disney park, I didn’t know too much about the ride. A simple riverboat tour ended up being a surprisingly entertaining summer movie. I initially thought it looked a little too generic or old fashioned, but my mom, brother, and I decided to see it in theaters after the Pandemic pushed it back. Jungle Cruise is overly long and complicated, but it’s the cast that makes it fun. For some reason, Dwayne Johnson really likes making jungle movies.
Frank is a steamboat skipper who gives jungle cruises on his crummy old boat “La Quila.” Only the Rock’s charm can make all of his ride inspired puns funny. Tribal chief Trader Sam is present, but the character is gender swapped in order to avoid controversy. Emily Blunt is equally enjoyable as one of many strong female Disney characters. The difference is Dr. Lily Houghton being a scientist in a male dominated world who doesn’t always look before she leaps. She sets out on an adventure with Frank in order to find the fabled “Tears of the Moon” tree which contains healing properties. They travel down the Amazon river accompanied by Frank’s friendly pet jaguar and Lily’s clearly gay brother MacGregor played by Jack Whitehall. Something Disney made a big deal about even though it’s never explicitly stated.
Frank and Lily bicker for most of their screen time, but they do become more romantic overtime. The jungle is fraught with exciting peril and exaggerated historical antagonists. Jesse Plemons plays the villainous Prince Joachim with an over-the-top German accent. Though not as over-the-top as Paul Giamatti’s Italian accent. Among other things, the biggest similarity to Pirates of the Caribbean is a band of cursed Spanish conquistadors. Édgar Ramírez plays the lead conquistador Aguirre who’s made out of snakes. While his fellow conquistadors are made out of trees, mud, and bees. Jungle Cruise earns its PG-13 rating and genuinely surprised me with a twist near the end. Though it doesn’t reinvent the genre, Jungle Cruise does manage to harken back to the classic Hollywood jungle adventures.