What a nice surprise!
Yes, “Jungle Cruise” is indeed a marketing gimmick for a Disney theme-park ride, just as “Pirates of the Caribbean” was.
Still, it has enough old-school Disney charm, color, action and romance to stand solidly on its own as the newest summer hit … and possibly a franchise.
Emily Blunt “(Mary Poppins Returns”) stars as explorer Liily Houghton, who wants to find a legendary flower with healing powers. She has swiped an artifact that could lead her on her quest in the Amazon jungle.
She and her brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall, “Bad Education”) take off in search of a captain to guide them through the jungle, and they happen upon Frank (Dwayne Johnson), a kinda/sorta shyster who thinks this might a way for him to make money.
But Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons, “Breaking Bad”) and his submarine crew also want the flower, and they will stop at nothing to get it.
Frank’s fakery, along with his penchant for groan-inducing puns, are among the movie’s highlights. Blunt’s fearless determination – and yes, there are a couple of scenes with Poppins-esque dialogue – is engaging. Plus she and Johnson share a terrific chemistry.
The look of the movie is great fun, too. Fish leap about, monkeys escape, colorful birds take wing … there is a lot of action and something eye-catching in every corner of each frame.
It’s not perfect. There’s a scene in which a scorpion seems to vanish into thin air, and a blurry part of the legend doesn’t always make sense.
Still, this is good popcorn fun that will appeal to people of all ages who enjoy Disney movies. It’s certainly worth a cruise to the theater, where it’s bound to make a huge box-office splash this weekend.
Running time: Two hours and seven minutes.
Rated: PG-13 for coarse humor and cartoonish violence.
In theaters and available for Premium purchase on Disney+