Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Dwayne Johnson is Frank and Emily Blunt is Lily in Disney's Jungle Cruise.

Disney/Disney Enterprises

Plan your screen time with the weekly What to Watch newsletter. Sign up today.

  • Jungle Cruise
  • Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
  • Written by Glenn Ficarra, John Requa and Josh Goldstein
  • Starring Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt and Jesse Plemons
  • Classification PG; 127 minutes
  • Opens July 30 in theatres across Canada, the same day it’s streaming on Disney+ with Premier Access

We live in a world where sometimes all it takes to get a movie made is that a Disney theme park ride exists. This was the case for The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which includes some of the highest-grossing films, but did not work in the favour of 2015′s Tomorrowland, which proved to be a massive critical and commercial failure.

Jungle Cruise, Disney’s latest foray into turning a theme park feature into a hopeful blockbuster, is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, best known for action flicks starring Liam Neeson (Run All Night, The Commuter).

Story continues below advertisement

Emily Blunt stars as Lily Houghton, a scientist who does not get respect because she is a woman who talks back, wears pants and defies conventions in early 20th-century England. Along with her loving and unadventurous brother McGregor (Jack Whitehall), Lily travels to Brazil in search of the Tree of Life, which supposedly has healing powers. It’s there where they meet Frank (Skipper) Wolf (Dwayne Johnson), a steamboat captain who reluctantly helps them on their journey. On their trail is Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons), a German aristocrat that wants the Tree of Life for himself.

Jungle Cruise taps into a type of thrill-ride nostalgia that feels algorithmically created. Everything about the film is just right, from its charismatic stars to its jungle hijinks to its heart-to-heart chemistry between Lily and Skipper – all of it only slightly updated for a 2021 crowd. Lily, for instance, is a girl boss kind of feminist: Nobody can tell her what she can’t do, even though she’s a (very wealthy) woman. The script is full of the sarcastic cadence of jokes we have heard millions of times before in Marvel movies, and there’s even a scene where McGregor cryptically comes out as gay to Skipper, who doesn’t make a big deal out of it.

The sheer crowd-pleasing power running throughout Jungle Cruise, from its stars to its no-expense-spared budget, makes for an easy film to enjoy on a purely superficial level. The trio of Johnson, Blunt and Whitehall have a chemistry created in a Disney lab. Plemons, cast as a wacky villain, should be more enjoyable, but he instead relies too heavily on wielding a thick German accent.

The film is almost all non-stop family-friendly action, but that doesn’t automatically ensure that the audience feels any genuine tension or stakes. I watched Jungle Cruise not rooting for anyone or hoping for any particular resolution, because despite everything feeling “perfect” onscreen, nothing here inspires warmth or feels particularly heartfelt.

Jungle Cruise was created for no other reason than for it to be a massive hit, and that is exactly what it will likely be for its target audience. I was never exactly bored, but neither was I at any point moved. I also don’t think viewers will be thinking too hard about this film’s exceptionally predictable story, or its weirdly colonial undertones. However, I have to give Disney credit for making Jungle Cruise the movie as close to riding Jungle Cruise, the theme park ride, as humanly possible. Just don’t stand in too long a line for it.

Special to The Globe and Mail

In the interest of consistency across all critics’ reviews, The Globe has eliminated its star-rating system in film and theatre to align with coverage of music, books, visual arts and dance. Instead, works of excellence will be noted with a Critic’s Pick designation across all coverage.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies