Disney’s Jungle Cruise Promises Old School Movie Magic

Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt strive to find their own African Queen in the new trailer for Disney's Jungle Cruise.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected the movie business in a pretty big way, from leaving big cinema chains like AMC on the brink of bankruptcy to countless movie delays, and Jungle Cruise is no different. The Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt Disney adventure has been delayed to 2021 due to the ongoing global health emergency. Disney made the announcement in April, well ahead of the movie’s original July premiere.

Regarding this Disney romp, Johnson‘s big-screen backlog is a proverbial battle royal of major movies, but few are as intriguing given the pedigree of who he’s partnered with (i.e. not Vin Diesel or Jason Statham) as Jungle Cruise. Based on a Disneyland and Disney World riverboat theme park ride, this branded project is clearly designed to recreate the same lucrative ride-to-movie magic of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, but with Blunt co-starring in the film, it also looks intentionally evocative of classic Hollywood star two-handers, most notably being Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen (1951).

Director Jaume Collet-Serra helms the ship, coming off thrillers like The Shallows and Run All Night. The Spanish director is known for thrillers such as the aforementioned The Shallows and Liam Neeson-starring actioners in 2015’s ensemble offering Run All Night, 2014’s Non-Stop and 2011’s Unknown. His earlier films include the 2009 twist-touting hit horror film Orphan, 2007 sports drama Goal II: Living the Dream and his directorial debut in the 2005 remake of horror classic House of Wax, which famously showcased a (heavily-giffed) scene in which Paris Hilton met a memorable demise. Collet-Serra’s next film will be the January 2018-scheduled mystery thriller The Commuter, which will, again, co-star Liam Neeson.

Jungle Cruise will see Collet-Serra working off a script from J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. Glenn Ficara and John Requa wrote the initial script. Producers John Davis and John Fox (via Davis Entertainment), Beau Flynn (FlynnPictureCo.) Dwayne Johnson himself, Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia are producing through Seven Bucks Productions.

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Jungle Cruise Release Date

Jungle Cruise will release on July 31, 2021 after being delayed from its earlier July 24, 2020 date amid the coronavirus emergency that caused movie studios to push back their releases.

The movie was originally scheduled to release in October 2019.

Jungle Cruise Trailer

Here’s the latest trailer:

And here’s the earlier one…

And here’s a cute promotional video Johnson and Blunt did together where they name check Bogie and Hepburn.

Jungle Cruise Cast

Dwayne Johnson is possibly the busiest man in showbiz after appearing in Hobbs & Shaw, Fighting with My Family, and Jumanji: The Next Level in 2019. It was partially that overload that caused Jungle Cruise to move to 2020. In the film, he plays Frank, an old riverboat captain and expert of life on the Amazon.

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Emily Blunt is Lily Houghton, the intrepid would-be explorer who hires Frank to charter her through the Amazon. This is obviously emulating Bogart and Hepburn’s chemistry in The African Queen, which earned Bogie an Oscar. Blunt herself is already an Oscar winner, so the prestige she brings to the movie is self-evident. 

Jack Whitehall will also play a key role. The character, who remains unnamed for now, will be the brother of Emily Blunt’s character. Thus, he’s likely destined to join Blunt for much of the film’s action-packed exploits with Dwayne Johnson. Whitehall, a London-born actor and comedian, has fielded comedic runs on UK television, notably on Bounty Hunters and Bad Education.

Jesse Plemons will continue his onscreen antagonist Renaissance in Jungle Cruise, since he has been cast as one of the film’s villains. Indeed, Dwayne Johnson will have an “Opie dead-eyed piece of s**t” to fight in the former Breaking Bad villain and Friday Night Lights actor, Plemons, for this Disney theme park tie-in movie. 

Jungle Cruise Story

Here is the official synopsis.

“Join fan favorites Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt for the adventure of a lifetime on Disney’s Jungle Cruise, a rollicking thrill-ride down the Amazon with wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff and intrepid researcher Dr. Lily Houghton. Lily travels from London, England to the Amazon jungle and enlists Frank’s questionable services to guide her downriver on La Quila—his ramshackle-but-charming boat. Lily is determined to uncover an ancient tree with unparalleled healing abilities—possessing the power to change the future of medicine. Thrust on this epic quest together, the unlikely duo encounters innumerable dangers and supernatural forces, all lurking in the deceptive beauty of the lush rainforest. But as the secrets of the lost tree unfold, the stakes reach even higher for Lily and Frank and their fate—and mankind’s—hangs in the balance. “