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Review: Jungle Cruise

Great chemistry can be the key to a movie working past familiar tropes. Such is the case with Disney's Jungle Cruise, opening in theaters and Disney+Premiere on Friday. The film is a serviceable mixture of The Mummy, Romancing the Stone, and Pirates of the Caribbean. What really makes it a fun watch is the interplay between Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, two movie stars who can charm just about anyone.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra keeps the film moving at a brisk pace. Whoever did the punch-ups on the script really knows how to keep the comedy flowing. After a semi-faithful recreation of the ride from Disney's theme parks, we are thrust into an adventure.

Jungle Cruise takes place during World War I. This is a time where female minds aren't valued and so Dr. Lily Houghton (Blunt) must have her brother McGregor (Jack Whitehall) stand in for her and explain that there is a powerful secret hidden in the Amazon. After stealing an arrowhead thought to be a key to these secrets, the two leave London and head to South America. German Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons) is hot on their trail for he sees his chance to gain power that would let him rule the world.

Inevitably the brother and sister meet Skipper Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson), a riverboat caption who owes a lot of money to a boss played by Paul Giamatti. He cons Lily and McGregor to hire him to lead them into the jungle but Skippy has ulterior motives. Nevertheless, the adventure leads them to supernatural forces and a cursed conquistador.

The interplay between Johnson and Blunt is reminiscent of Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz in the mummy. They play off each other with deadpan humor, quips and insults. The results are very funny and enough to carry the film through its complicated but familiar plot. Whitehall and Plemons are also very good in their roles. While the film doesn't have a whole lot of surprises, it has likable performances everywhere you look. Kudos for the film trying to address gender equality but the film never has a whole lot of time for it, aside from a running joke about Lily wearing pants.

Jungle Cruise is a fun summer blockbuster. Does it wear its influences on its sleeves? Hell yes, it wears them all over but the film has plenty of charm to spare. A few decent action scenes, lots of humor, and some exotic locales are all you need for a good time at the theater, or at home.



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