Jungle Cruise (2021): silly and throwaway, but that’s ok

I think if you approach this movie with the view, ‘it is what it is’, then you’ll have a fun time. It’s an adventure movie that’s kind of a throwback; in that it wants to be Indiana Jones, The Mummy and Pirates of the Caribbean. And no, it doesn’t come close to any of those (because they’re classics), but nevertheless it’s fairly fun. I mean… I was never bored, which was largely down to the two leads: Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. The latter, in my mind, carried this movie. She took the baton from Rachel Weisz in The Mummy and ran with it delightfully. Dwayne Johnson, as ever, did his charming ‘I’m a loveable wall of muscle’ thing that he does in every movie, which more or less works. Although his outfit was ridiculous, even for him.

The setup goes: Emily Blunt plays adventurous Lily, who wants to find the MacGuffin, sorry Tears of the Moon (which is basically the Tree of Life) and has a map and a thing that points her in the direction of the Amazon. Her slightly pathetic brother McGregor (Jack Whitehall) tags along for, er, comedy reasons, I guess. They need a boat and a skipper to take them up river Apocalypse Now style. Enter The Rock: who’s the least likely looking riverboat captain you ever will see. But he has a jaunty hat and makes painful dad jokes, so there’s that, I suppose.

Paul Giamatti turns up at this point, with what can only be described as an ‘Allo ‘Allo! style Italian accent and an even more ridiculously sunburnt face. He has a few scenes that are amusing enough, but then he’s largely forgotten about for the rest of the movie.

And then there’s Jesse Plemons… ah Jesse, you’re so strange, so weird and wonderful. He plays a German Prince who wants the Tree of Life for himself. He has a submarine and follows them along the river, inexplicably firing torpedoes at them (which you think would destroy the map and everything he needs from them. But there I am again, picking holes in the ridiculous plot). Plemons is having the most fun in this movie and knew what kind of movie he was in. If anything, I wanted to see more of him.

As you might expect, various hijinks take place as they race to find the tree and, er, do stuff with it. Oh, there’s also an additional threat in the form of conquistadores led by Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez). They put me straight in mind of Barbosa in Pirates of the Caribbean… cursed, monstrous, you know the drill. The trouble is, pretty much everything in this movie reminded me of another movie where I’d seen it done better. And yet… I knew that going in, and accepted it. After all, it is what it is… a movie with Dwayne Johnson at its centre. It’s only ever going to be a silly three out of five star affair.

And sometimes that’s ok.

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