“Jungle Cruise” exists solely to advertise Disney theme parks to children.
It’s been a rough year for Disney as the media giant has lost billions on massive films such as “Black Widow” and “Mulan,” due in part to international box office returns. When the lead actress of your last big-budget movie (Scarlett Johansson) is suing you for a breach of contract, the only way to regroup is to draw people to your next big-budget movie, which is also an advertisement for your theme parks.
“Jungle Cruise” is based on the Disney theme parks attraction that was supposed to be their mainstream introduction to the property. COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, however, have done a number on Disney’s parks and movies. The company went all out by hiring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt, two of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood, to lead this $200 million adventure, but multiple delays put the film on ice for nearly three years before its theatrical and Disney Plus release.
COVID has diminished Disney’s ability to pack crowds in their theme parks, and “Jungle Cruise” won’t draw many viewers to the theaters either.
“Jungle Cruise” is a fantasy adventure comedy film that fails at all three genres. The film wastes Johnson and Blunt as its charismatic lead actors with a story as cookie-cutter as they come. The story revolves around a magic MacGuffin that can do anything — including bringing people back from the dead. Our protagonists go through a Rolodex of villains, none of whom has any personality.
The film is aimed at a young audience, but it was shot as a generic action-adventure. The bad editing only highlights how many problems the production had behind the scenes in structuring a coherent narrative. Despite a two-hour runtime, “Jungle Cruise” stuffs its plot full of exposition and comedy gags that are nothing but filler with no importance to the central story.
The secondary characters do nothing to enhance the story, and some are clearly here for an easy paycheck. Whitehall as McGregor Houghton is supposed to be the comedy relief, but his character provides neither and could have been cut from the film entirely. Paul Giamatti as Nilo doesn’t fare much better as he is barely in the film and is never relevant to the plot.
“Jungle Cruise” is a dry and boring adventure that fails to excite children or adults into wanting to see more at Disney’s overpriced theme parks. Blunt is the only redeeming quality in this soulless big-budget corporate live-read ad.