Jungle Cruise is basically The Mummy without Brendan Fraser, right down to Jonathan’s—er, McGregor Houghton’s white suit and pessimistic attitude.
To be honest, I would have loved to see Fraser revive his himbo-esque antics for this rendition of a traditional 90s action-comedy. That’s no shade to Dwayne Johnson who absolutely killed as Frank Wolff, I just miss seeing Fraser’s action-antics on the screen (can someone please reboot The Mummy?) though you can catch him in No Sudden Move.
Jungle Cruise, sans Fraser, does have merit to stand on its own. But the $30 Disney+ Premiere Access fee isn’t something you want to spend if you don’t have to. So, is it worth it? Let’s dig in:
What is the Jungle Cruise movie storyline?
In Disney’s latest action-comedy, Dwayne Johnson plays the wisecracking skipper, Frank Wolff, who’s been sailing around the Amazon on his questionable-looking boat for years. So, when Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) and her reluctant brother, McGregor need a ride to find a plant with unparalleled healing abilities that will change the future of medicine, he’s the guy to call.
Of course, they’re being chased by a German aristocrat, Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons) who wants the plant to “win the war.” I should mention that the film is set in 1916, so he’d be referencing the First, not Second World War.
Jungle Cruise has heavy The Mummy inspiration, but there were some serious similarities to Pirates of the Caribbean—in particular, On Stranger Tides which features a character referred to as “The Spaniard” (Óscar Jaenada) that’s surprisingly similar in both look and character storyline to Jungle Cruise’s Aguirre (Édgar Ramírez).
When you break it down, it’s not entirely surprising that we see a heavy Pirate’s influence due to the fact that it’s built on the same grounds. Just like they created the Pirates of the Caribbean film series from the Disney ride that already existed, they too based this film off the Jungle Cruise ride at the Disney Parks.
I admit that I’ve never been on it, despite being to Anaheim’s Disneyland on more than one occasion, but I really want to hop on the theme park ride since seeing the film.
Is it any good?
Despite the fact that I can see some pretty blatant copying, or at least heavy inspiration from some of the action-comedy fan favorites—especially those that star someone whose name rhymes with Medan Schamser—I genuinely enjoyed the ride (pun possibly intended).
I particularly love films that feature the deceptive beauty of nature, like the lush rainforest settings in the Amazon (which it appears were actually filmed in Georgia, but that’s just my best guess). If you’re looking for an adventure film that you can enjoy with the family or alone, I would recommend it.
I love that it follows the motif of classic adventures. There are a few good ole chase scenes, the classic Walt Disney Pictures mix with unexplained supernatural forces, and plenty of gorgeous sets to look at—not to mention Dwayne Johnson, need I say more?
But to watch it right now, you’ll need to pay the Premiere Access fee.
What is Disney Plus Premier Access?
Disney Plus Premier Access is Disney’s answer to the lack of theatre runs that is currently plaguing the film industry due to COVID-19. With Premier Access, users pay a one-time $30 fee to gain streaming access to Disney’s newest big releases. Users who pay the fee can access the film instantly and watch it as many times as they want.
Disney Plus first used this release method with Mulan in 2020, then again with Raya and the Last Dragon, Cruella, and Black Widow, all earlier this year. Allowing those that paid for access to these films to watch them while they were still technically doing their theatre run. After their initial test run was successful, Disney announced plans to release future films the same way.
While the price is steep, it is cheaper than taking the family to the movies if you consider ticket and food prices, not to mention the hassle of getting everyone ready, in the car, and to the theatre. That said, it doesn’t bring the same experience.
It’s hot in the Amazon—and it’s a tad bit warm where I currently am too, so I recommend grabbing a chilling drink to enjoy the show.
I personally went with a frozen bottle of Tazo passion tea that melted as the film got hotter (technically, the weather did it, but who’s counting?). I use half-concentrate, half-water, and freeze it overnight.
However, if you don’t have access to the concentrate, make yourself some good ole fashioned tea, pour it into a freezable bottle and throw it in the freezer so it’s ready in the morning (depending on your freezer temp.).
Of course, you can’t watch a movie without snacks. For the Jungle Cruise movie, I went a little non-traditional and made myself some homemade sweet potato fries that I paired with store-bought roasted garlic aioli (though you can make your own).
Homemade sweet potato fries are a piece of cake to make, you simply need to:
- Peel a handful of sweet potatoes and cut them into fry-sized pieces.
- Toss them with olive oil and a little paprika (you can add cayenne pepper if you want a little more spice or ditch the spice altogether).
- Let your mixture sit overnight—you don’t have to do this, but the longer they sit the spicier they get.
- Bake them in the oven at around 375 to 400 degrees (depending on your oven) for around 45 minutes, flipping them two or three times.
Make sure you check on your fries a few times. Those that are sliced a bit thinner cook faster, likewise if you prefer a thick fry, you could be waiting a while. You just want to make sure that you don’t burn them.
And I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will: make sure you wear a pair of oven mitts when you take the tray out of the oven. No one needs to suffer for a tray of fries.
I admit that the pairing might be a little strange with the tea, but I enjoyed it all the same!
Jungle Cruise Funko Pop!
I’m slightly disappointed to tell you that the only Jungle Cruise Funko Pop design released along with the film is Frank.
That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with him, but it wouldn’t have hurt to at the very least put out a Lily figure since I have a sneaky suspicion that her determined personality will end up being one of the fan favorites for a while (though I still think people are madly fan-girling over Cruella).
Plus with Disney taking a baby step (but kind of big for Disney) with McGregor Houghton being an openly gay character (not that those words were ever actually said), it’d be nice to expand your collection with a figure of him.
That said, the movie was just released. Perhaps in due time, we’ll see some movement on a few more Jungle Cruise-esque characters from Funko Pop.
I admit that the $30 price tag is a bit jarring, so it really depends on your situation. You can easily spend more than that at the theatre (I know I often do), especially if you’re taking the whole family. So, if you’re going to make a whole evening of it, it’s a relatively cheap date.
But I admit that it’s not the best Disney movie I’ve ever seen. But I thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly the:
- exceptional acting (which I admit I’m seeing less and less these days)
- beautiful setting
- true-to-form 1990s adventure comedy nature of the film
If you’re planning on waiting, it’s currently sent to be available for Disney+ subscribers as part of the general subscription content on November 12, 2021—that’s three and a half months, which you can probably manage.
When it comes down to it, I decide based on whether or not I would have to go see it in the theatre. In the case of Jungle Cruise, I absolutely would have. Especially considering it’s reminiscent of the 90s action films I hold so dearly to my heart.
So, for me, it’s a yes. But it’s not up to me, is it?
Not ready to pay extra? Here are some films to check out in the meantime:
- The Mummy—while I love them all, I say stick with the OG if you haven’t seen it. You can watch this bad boy right on Amazon Prime Video right now.
- Journey to the Centre of the Earth—another Fraser film, this one’s perfect for a family movie night in.
- Kong Skull Island—a guilty pleasure of mine, this certainly doesn’t have the best storyline and you might want to vet it before pressing play in front of the kiddos.
- Pirates of the Caribbean—I assume you’ve seen this, but now’s the time for a quick re-watch! You can get up to six months FREE of Disney+ with an Amazon Music subscription (which is a killer deal).