ARE WE THERE YET? JUNGLE CRUISE
Full disclosure: this critic has never been to Disney World, or Disneyland for that matter. Another disclosure: this same critic has seen The African Queen (1951) many times.
Somewhere in between Disney's over-the-top ride and the classic Hepburn/Bogart movie lies, Jungle Cruise (2021).
As with the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Jungle Cruise recreates the Disney park experience on celluloid. Lily, an independent, spirited British explorer and her pampered, unwitting brother, MacGregor, hire a tour boat captain to take the pair down the Amazon. Their mission involves finding a legendary, elusive blossom that has magical healing properties. Chasing them is the youngest son of the Kaiser who wishes to find the same flower; his purpose, to win World War I and reign forever supreme.
Highlights such as a smashing prelude in London, a delightful chemistry between Lily and Captain Frank help keep our attention. The CGI often astonishes (is the jaguar real?) without interfering too much with the plot progression. Further, the actors provide plenty of entertainment. Emily Blunt plays Lily; Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Frank, Jack Whitehall, Lily's brother, MacGregor; Jesse Plemons, a diabolical German villain; Paul Giamatti, a one-note, ornery character, Nilo, (another boat owner), plus Édgar Ramirez, Aguirre an awakened (half-dead), vengeful conquistador. All have fun with their roles. Blunt has the strongest part; while Whitehall (Good Omens) provides the one-liners, Johnson the puns along with Plemons the corny, guileful comments; Ramirez the nerve-racking threats.
The main issues with this incarnation of Disney fun comprise the numerous skirmishes (no blood but lots of shot-making and explosions)--our heroes encounters with the haunted-house-like skeletal creatures. become tiresome. Several scenes may scare children under the age of thirteen, but they won't have enough blood and guts (though it has vomiting, yes, again) for older teens. Besides as with so many features these days, the overlong running time will test some viewers.
Not a movie to watch on the small screen, Jungle Cruise does have its charming moments. Who should see this movie? Parents will have to decide. If you're familiar with the ride and not as much with The African Queen, you may have as much fun as your kids. Too bad it couldn't have been made for all audiences.
Rated PG-13 for the above-referenced violence, frightening encounters; vipers, and lots of collateral damage, mainly Germans, some Brits, centuries-old Spaniards along with indigenous people.
Now playing at a theater near you. Locals: Entertainment Cinemas, Wellfleet Cinemas and Regal Cinemas.
Earlier reviews not seen on this website (before May 20, 2021) are available on https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/wendy-shreve/movies or my previous blog site, featuringfilm.com
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