So what did go wrong exactly?
The first scene in London’s museum, shows already this is gonna be a silly flick, with lots of slapstick, aimed at a very young audience. Not only younger than hubby but also younger than me … and probably even younger than you, dear readers. And it also exposes Blunt’s weakness: She’s not a comedienne. In fact didn’t she even manage to deliver one single funny scene.
Then we are on the mighty Amazon river and see Frank (Johnson) and his steamboat in action, scamming hapless tourists. He does it well, the scene is relatively funny with lots of small giggles and Johnson is in his element. The scenes with his antagonist Nilo (Paul Giamatti) are ok-ish silly and full of action and so-so comedy.
Sole real stand-out in the cast was Jesse Plemons as mad German U-boat commander. He understood his role as a slapstick figure and played it to satisfaction.
It all falls apart when Lily Houghton (Blunt) and her snobbish brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) enter the scene. Whitehall acts like a doofus, although the scripts doesn’t provide him with funny material. And the fact that he’s obviously a flaming homo can’t be mentioned in a Disney movie. Fukn incompetent … and cowardish. They robbed themselves of a lot of jokes, which is another reason why H-wood goes down so rapidly. It didn’t even need a fukn pandemic. 😐
Although it’s fast paced action and a lot of wisecracks and stupid talking, we didn’t feel the spark. And that’s not even Blunt’s fault. She’s a terrific actress, and a more competent director had known how to use her and set her in scene. Jaume Collet-Serra obviously lost control pretty early in the plot. With just a tad more experience and talent he would have known that all the little studio bosses at Disney and a gang of no less than 7 screenwriters aren’t a good sign for the success of a major movie project. Jungle Cruise was let down by a tone-deaf screenplay and probably a lot of petty infights.
Yeah, let’s talk about the screenplay: The backstory with the cursed Spanish conquistadors was even for hubby and me too deep and confused. Watching this as a 6 – 10 y/o must have been sooo fukn boring. We all know that the Spaniards were a truly awful lot, making their story funny in any way needs a lot of Monty Python-esque humour. All Hollywood could do was turning the Jungle Cruise into a silly but humourless B-flick.
Was I the only duped audience member thinking we would see something as utterly charming as Bogart and Hepburn in 1951’s The African Queen? That was a river cruise well done!
EDIT: The Pitch Meeting video is already on YouTube: