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Length: 127 minutes
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Edgar Ramírez, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons, and Paul Giamatti
In theatres from 29 July (Singapore) and streaming on Disney+ from 30 July
4 out of 5 stars
Disney's latest blockbuster has hit cinema screens as well as TV screens – it's available as premier access content on Disney Plus for S$38.98.
The premier access fee is well worth the money for a fun movie adventure at home with family (or just invite friends over to watch it and split the cost with them!)
Jungle Cruise is an uncomplicated fantasy escapade that's simply out to entertain you, and its bankable stars deliver in spades. The story is based on the classic Disney theme park ride of the same name, Jungle Cruise. Its ending leaves open the possibility of a sequel, possibly another franchise in the vein of that other series based on a ride, Pirates Of The Caribbean.
Emily Blunt is an intrepid early-20th century British researcher Dr Lily Houghton, who hires wisecracking boat captain Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) to bring her down the maze-like Amazon River in search of a legendary tree whose flowers – the Tears of the Moon – can cure any ailment and break any curse. Lily brings her foppish brother Macgregor in tow; his disdain for the discomforts of jungle cruising is matched only by his abiding desire to protect his sister.
Along the way, the trio fight the German prince, Joachim (Jesse Plemons), who is determined to use the healing flowers to win World War I, and a band of monstrous immortal conquistadors, led by Aguirre (Edgar Ramírez), who need the flowers to break the curse that binds them to the river. Basically, everyone wants to find the magical tree, and most of them are willing to kill to find it.
Pants-wearing Lily defies the rampant sexism and regressive gender norms of her time, not only in her sartorial choices but also as a trailblazing female academic. Alas, for all her embodiment of feminism, her goal in the movie nevertheless morphs from her desire to make a breakthrough scientific discovery into her need to save her newfound male romantic interest, Frank.
Not that that takes away from the sheer entertainment value of the movie. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson starts the movie off with a volley of dad jokes which keep on coming throughout the movie (Disney's Jungle Cruise ride skippers were apparently known for dad jokes.) His boat cruise tourists roll their eyes as he lets off this thigh-slapper about a couple of toucans by the river, "They're playing their favourite game of beak-wrestling. The only drawback is, only two-can play." Everyone can't stop cringing at his lame jokes but you'll squeal at them because they're so bad that they're good.
Jungle Cruise is also a breakthrough in terms of LGBTQ representation in a major Disney film. That's not saying a lot, I know, but Jack Whitehall's gay character Macgregor is at least sincere and unoffensive, and not mere queer-bait. And we know Macgregor is gay because he says so in the movie – without using the word "gay"; well, that would be too much to expect from Disney – and the ultra-masculine Johnson actually toasts him for coming out.
While Macgregor evokes gay feminine sensibilities with his fastidiousness about his clothes and creature comforts, he never falls into the stereotypes of camp and effeminacy. He holds his own in fistfights and is in fact the one to land the final blow to the villain. In terms of the Vito Russ Test, a standard of LGBTQ inclusivity in films, Jungle Cruise would in fact pass with flying colours. Cheers to Disney finally paving the way for proper queer representation in its blockbusters!
Apart from the dad jokes, in what other movie have you seen a gay blowjob joke at Dwayne Johnson's expense? (Don't worry, parents – the joke will blow right over your kids' heads.)
All in all, Jungle Cruise is an enjoyable and exhilarating ride. Sign me up for the next cruise!
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