'Jungle Cruise' delivers the goods after bumpy ride

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Posted at 11:33 AM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 12:33:00-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) -- Just like the ride on which it's based, "Jungle Cruise" floats along in a sea of bad jokes and suspension of disbelief, content to drift along on a current of oddball wackiness.

Available July 30 in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access, "Jungle Cruise" delivers the breezy summer action-comedy goods, even if the ride is a little rough at times and the ship springs a few leaks.

It's not easy to cobble together a cohesive action film out of a 7-minute Disneyland attraction, but director Jaume Collet-Serra ("Run All Night," "The Shallo") is up to the task.

With its Rube Goldberg-style action scenes, silly plot developments, and cornball jokes, the movie feels as though it was designed to be a LEGO video game in movie form.

Dwayne Johnson plays Frank, a sarcastic con man who toils through his days half-heartedly escorting passengers through the Amazon rainforest. He's hired by wealthy, treasure-hunting British siblings, Lily (Emily Blunt) and McGregor (Jack Whitehall) as they hunt for a relic believed to grant everlasting life.

A nefarious squad of collectors and mercenaries, including Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez), Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons) chases after them, while greedy harbormaster Nilo (Paul Giamatti) plays both sides for personal profit.

This film is definitely one in which the journey far outweighs the destination. It's key that Johnson, Blunt and Whitehall are fun to watch together, and they tug the rusty boat along with energetic aplomb. Slinging lighthearted insults at one another, they bicker, bungle and battle their way through one bewildering set piece after another. Staying afloat through the force of sheer momentum, the harmless, breezy tone keeps it seaworthy.

But boy, are there some rough spots.

The plot hews a little too close to the "Pirates of the Caribbean" mythos, the CGI is at times more laughably bad than any of the jokes, and the plot is an Erector Set of plug-and-play cliches.

The movie is almost willfully awful at times, but it's so good-natured and witty that you overcome the head-shakes and eye-rolling to realize you're having fun.

"Jungle Cruise" is worth the soggy shoes and backache the ride entails.

RATING: 3 stars out of 4.

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