The Premise: Based on a beloved ride at Disney that’s 20% water ride and 80% dad jokes (now with less racism!), the film adaptation introduces us to Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt), thwarted at every turn because of her gender, but dedicated enough to scientific pursuit to follow it all the way to the Amazon where she engages irascible skipper Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) to deliver her to the jungle.
The Verdict: While it achieves no great heights, it’s a decent action-adventure the whole family can enjoy. It relies heavily on the charm and chemistry between Blunt and Johnson, who are quite apparently enjoying themselves on screen. Emily Blunt is gorgeous, even in pants, Johnson is formidable wrestling a cheetah, Jack Whiteall stuns in a series of dinner jackets, Paul Giamatti looks like he was born to sport a gold tooth, and Jesse Plemons delivers a memorably villainous accent. A cross between Disney’s successful ride-based franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the more recent Dora the Explorer effort, Jungle Cruise is just fun enough, funny enough, interesting enough, and exciting enough, but with the excessive charisma oozing from our two leads, this is a worthwhile watch – in theatres, or on Disney Plus.
Allison is tired of being the bad guy in her family, always the one to say no, to stop the fun before it turns into fights or unfinished homework or the destruction of public property. Moms have such a bad reputation for being the ruiners of fun, and somehow dads seem to get off easy, don’t they? So after one too many dictator jokes, Allison agrees to a Yes Day – a period of 24 hours where the parents have to say everything the kids propose. Yes Day!
Allison (Jennifer Garner) is a stay at home mom, husband Carlos (Edgar Ramirez) the typical overworked dad who likes to come home and take it easy. Their three kids think they’ve got it tough. Mom is SO strict! [Sidebar: I actually thought the mom was perfectly fine and I resent making mothers into villains just for attempting to raise their kids.] But this is why a no-nonsense mom like Allison would agree to say nothing but yes to angelic little Ellie (Everly Carganilla), troublemaker Nando (Julian Lerner), and rebellious teenager Katie (Jenna Ortega) for an entire day.
Now, technically speaking, this is a sweet little family film about getting your priorities straight and spending quality time together. But let’s be real: do you want to give your kids devilish ideas? I know my nephews are very impressionable, and I worried for my sister’s car when Big Ask #2 was driving through a car wash with the windows open. Are you curious now? Do you wonder what kids will ask for if given free reign? Will you lose sleep tonight worrying about what your kids are cooking up? Will they get you in a weak moment and extract a Yes Day promise you’ll live to regret? Or, god forbid, not live to regret? Will your kids be reasonable? Hahaha, just kidding. They will not.
So up to you: is 90 minutes of screen time so you can take a bath undisturbed going to be worth the price you may ultimately pay? If you need help deciding, here are bit a few of the consequences evident in the film: public humiliation, diarrhea, ruined upholstery, incarceration. Sound good to you? If you’re brave enough to continue, know that you’re going to get Jennifer Garner at her Garniest – goofy and super earnest and very believable as a mom who routinely embarrasses her children. She’s hard to resist. Pro tip: if your kids do start agitating for a Yes Day, keep in mind that’s what aunts and uncles are for. We’re physically incapable of saying no.
Welcome to near future Detroit, just a few days before a new mind-control signal will be broadcast across the U.S.A. to end crime. In the lead-up to turning on the mind-control switch, anyone trying to cross the border to Canada is shot on sight by the fine, upstanding members of the U.S. Border Patrol. Also, all police officers are being laid off, which puts an awful lot of faith in this new system to be in good working order as it comes online. Oh, and for some reason you have to trade in your old money for new money as part of this switchover.
Anyway, a few idiots decide to stage the last great heist in American history (hence the title) by hacking the mind-control system, stealing a billion dollars’ worth of the old money, driving to Canada, and living free for the rest of their lives. That is literally their plan, word for word.
Why do they want to steal money that the U.S. government has marked for destruction? Well, that’s why I called them idiots in the previous paragraph. Their plan doesn’t make sense. And that’s just the heist. Don’t even try to reconcile the implementation of the mind-control system with little things like the U.S. Constitution or self-defence, or make sense of why people are lining up to kill themselves before this system comes into effect, or figure out why there are numerous large protests IN FAVOUR OF the mind-control system.
This movie is absolutely intolerable for many reasons but is absolutely unforgivable right now since police officers and FBI agents abuse incapacitated subjects ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS. All the stupidity in the script pales in comparison to Netflix’s decision to release this in the same week as George Floyd was laid to rest.