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Good cast can’t quite rescue ‘Jungle Cruise’

Movies

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It’s been said that the worst thing a movie can be is boring. I’ve probably said that myself more than once. But there is something a movie can be that’s worse than boring and that’s tedious.

“Jungle Cruise” is tedious enough that its writing and plot flaws overcome a lot of good work from its stellar cast.

Based on a Disney theme park ride, “Jungle Cruise” pairs botanist Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) and mysterious boat skipper Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) on an adventure to find an Amazonian tree that can heal anything.

Of course, Frank and Lily aren’t the only people looking for this tree. That soon brings them into conflict with Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemmons), a greedy German aristocrat, as well as a trio of cursed Spanish mercenaries led by Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez).

In my experience, movies become tedious most often when they are formulaic and predictable. This allows you to figure out how the plot will play out and lets you get way out in front of the plot, leading to annoyance as you wait around for the movie to catch up. This makes movies feel like an endless slog to the closing credits.

Because it unfolds exactly like you think it will, right down to specific story beats, “Jungle Cruise” becomes extremely tedious. You sit through fight scenes and action set pieces that are meaningless because you already know what’s coming next.

Before you know it, you’re completely disengaged from the movie and wondering about the silly minutia of the film, like whether or not it’s a bold political statement in 2021 that the movie you’re watching makes so much out of the fact that a female character wears pants throughout the film. When a movie loses you like that, it’s an indication of some pretty bad storytelling.

That said, the cast nearly makes “Jungle Cruise” worth sitting through. Johnson is not a great actor but he has such a physical presence on screen and so much charisma that he’s almost always fun to watch.

Blunt is also great as the hard-nosed, determined woman trying to make her way in a man’s world. She’s funny and both she and Johnson appear to be enjoying the opportunity to play off one another.

Throw in a gleeful performance from Plemmons and a small but immensely fun role played by Paul Giamatti and you have a collection of performances strong enough to carry most films.

But “Jungle Cruise” isn’t most films and apart from the cast and a terrific, memorable musical score from James Newton Howard, it’s mostly a bland, forgettable experience. The action doesn’t stand out, a lot of the visual effects are less than convincing and most of the comedy is of the eye-rolling, rather than the side-splitting, persuasion.

However, if you’re a fan of Johnson, “Jungle Cruise” could be your jam. Johnson and Blunt nearly overcome the rest of the movie’s flaws and there are some fun moments. I just don’t see “Jungle Cruise” as being worth the time or money when there’s so much other better content out there.

2 ½ Indy Fedoras out of 5

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Thanks to Fat Cats in Rexburg for providing screenings for movie reviews on EastIdahoNews.com.

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