In some ways a movie like Disney’s new Jungle Cruise should be made for me. I’m a big Disneyland fan, love the Jungle Cruise attraction and am always up for an adventure story. Even last Fall I did a whole video ranking all of the current films based on Disney rides (even The Country Bears!)
Ever since the success of the original Pirates of the Caribbean Disney has been dying for a new successful franchise and whether it be Tomorrowland, The Lone Ranger, John Carter, A Wrinkle in Time and more. It’s discouraging because when these new franchise attempts fail (both critically and box office) they go back to the bland but profitable live action remakes.
Anyway, now we have Jungle Cruise and it’s a light, enjoyable romp through the jungle. That said, it’s a little frustrating because it had all the pieces to be one of my favorites of the year but several choices it makes hold it back from greatness. It’s ok, not great.
The strengths of Jungle Cruise lies in its leads with Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson having nice chemistry together. The banter between them feels classic and the action scenes bring back the joy and thrills of a classic adventure film (this film leans into the nostalgia many will have for films like The Mummy, Indiana Jones, Romancing the Stone and even Tintin).
I also really enjoyed Jack Whitehall as Blunt’s uppety brother MacGregor. He was new to me as an actor but he stole every scene he was in. I particularly enjoyed his interactions with a pet leopard they have on board the cruise! The CGI wasn’t the best on the leopard but Whitehall made it funny so I didn’t care. Speaking of CGI, there is also a really well done action scene where Johnson steers the boat away from a giant waterfall.
One of the best things about the Disneyland ride is the punny skippers with their embarrassing Dad jokes. I was worried this film would forgo that aspect and take itself too seriously. Fortunately Johnson is up for the cheesy humor, and I got a real kick out of that. The jokes made it a cheeky fun adventure romp.
The problem with Jungle Cruise is it tries way too hard to build lore and create a mythology around the adventure. It should have just been a simple escapade through the jungle but instead we get long sections with Johnson explaining the backstory of the special flower, enchanted conquistadors and aspects to his character that don’t really help endear him to us more in any way.
These long scenes of exposition drag the movie down and we feel its over 2 hour length more than we should. There are also some weird music choices and the CGI can be weak for a film of this magnitude.
I enjoyed Jesse Plemons as the evil Prince Joachim villain but did not need the conquistadors or Paul Giamatti (who’s scenes must have been cut) as a competing merchant named Nilo. It begins to feel overwrought and tiresome when it should be super fun.
Nevertheless, I do think Jungle Cruise is worth watching and a throwback to wholesome family adventure films of the past. I hope it does well and we see more films like it in the future.
“And now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the backside of water!”
I’m officially so jealous of anyone who got to go to Disney’s Comicon celebration D23. I got to experience some of the fun panels watching on periscope (thanks awesome periscopers!) and I can’t even imagine seeing them in person. Let me try and sum up all we learned from D23.
The biggest announcement was Star Wars Land!!! Disneyland and Disneyworld are going to expand to add whole new lands with an immersive Star Wars experience . I love Star Wars so this is so exciting. Evidently all the park personnel and everything you see at Star Wars land will be in character and part of the Star Wars world. The land will be “14 acres each. Guests will be able to ride the Millennium Falcon, sample blue milk and hang out at the cantina”. Sign me up!
We also found out that Space Mountain is going to be redesigned to Hyperspace Mountain Star Tours will be updated to include the Force Awakens characters. Sounds like a Disneyland trip will be in my future!
In other Disneyland news they announced a new Toy Story land with a slinky dog roller coaster. So far the Toy Story attractions have been amazing so this should be great.
Star Wars Movie News
Continuing on the Star Wars vein we got new information on the Rogue One movie which looks awesome. Director Gareth Edwards has started shooting and we should get the movie next year. It will be the first stand alone Star Wars movies and looks like it will take a darker tone about resistance fighters who are trying to steal the plans for the Death Star.
The cast looks great with Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen and Alan Tudyk. With some Chinese action stars it could provide a really visceral feel to the action of the movie and universe which they are trying to keep as real in feel as possible.
We also got this really cool cast photo
We also got to see the Force Awakens young cast and Harrison Ford introducing a new poster that looked amazing. I am so excited for that movie!!!
Marvel of course had some big announcements at D23 the biggest are lots of info about next years Captain America Civil War. If you don’t know this plots superheroes against each other and evidently they showed a new trailer with Black Widow and Hawkeye fighting. I can’t wait to see this new trailer!
Kevin Feige of Marvel also announced Doctor Strange and evidently Benedict Cumberbatch spoke to the crowd from London. I’m a huge Cumberbatch fan and don’t know anything about Dr Strange so the movie looks like a fun addition to the MCU.
Now for the main star at D23- the animation panels and news.
From Pixar there was a panel on Finding Dory where Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell, Kaitlin Olson and Ellen DeGeneres were all announced. We of course knew about DeGeneres and Albert Brooks but Ty Burrell who does great voice work and Ed O’Neill are wonderful additions to the cast.
We also learned a little more about Toy Story 4. We knew it was a love story but John Lasseter elaborated it was a romance between Woody and Bo Peep who was missing in the 3rd movie. Evidently Woody and Buzz go on an adventure to find Bo and it is very romantic. Lasseter said:
“Each of the stories is a different genre,” Lasseter said, “and Toy Story 4 is a love story. It’s a love story between Woody and Bo Peep. Bo’s returned for Toy Story 4. Woody and Buzz head out to find Bo. It’s a very, very emotional story, and it’s very fun doing a story about [those two characters].”
It’s really true about the Toy Story movies. Each one has a different feel and is in a different genre.
The much talked about Coco project was officially announced by Director Lee Unkrich. This is going to be a day of the dead story where they ask the question What if you could meet your long dead family members? (Pixar loves those what if questions!). The only thing about it which makes me a tiny bit sad is I am sure nobody will remember Book of Life after this which was so artistically beautiful but lacked Pixar’s great storytelling.
Disney Animation News
The biggest news from Disney is their new film Gigantic which will take on the Jack and the Beanstalk story. I believe this will be the first time Disney has retold a fairy tale they have previously animated? Fun and Fancy Free is okay but the new take on it seems very inventive.
In this version the giant is an 11 year old girl which I think could be really interesting and I love the concept art. I think it could work really well with the current WDAS CG animation style. Also Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez from Frozen are doing the music (Yay!). Evidently they sang one of the songs and it was a huge hit.
Disney had a presentation on their upcoming film Moana and Dwayne Johnson proved his charisma once again. They also announced all the music talent behind the film, which I am super pumped about- Lin-Manuel Miranda who wrote the The Heights and is incredible, composer Mark Mancina (“Tarzan” “The Lion King”), and Opetaia Foa’i who is in a Polynesian band called Te Vaka. John Musker and Ron Clements are directing and so there is every reason to be excited about this movie (I love anything Polynesian!). And it is so cool to see how important the project is for Johnson.
The last animated film they talked about is Zootopia. We learned some interesting things about it. First of all, that it is going to be a musical or at least have original songs which I didn’t know about. They announced a character named Gazelle who will be played by Shakira which honestly I doesn’t do much for me but should be a good outreach to the Latino Disney fans. I’m not a fan of her outfit which seems very slinky. I’m still a little nervous about this project but the team they’ve got is great and it’s cool to see Disney doing something different. I’m sure it will be great.
The last thing I thought was cool in the footage was the response to The Jungle Book trailer. Director Jon Favreau introduced it and I guess everyone loved it! And then the entire cast was on stage which looked really cool. Ben Kingsley, who voices Bagheera, said “There is a saying among actors: Never work with a child or animals. I work with a child, and I play an animal.” I just hope they change the ending. Fingers crossed. It sounds like they are using some inspiration from the book and the movie so that sounds great. I was glad to hear that it will be a musical and they will be singing Bear Necessities!
And evidently they watched a trailer for Jungle Book which I can’t wait to see.
So I know that was an insane amount of information but if you are a movie fan and especially a Disney fan you are probably eating it all up like I did. (And there is even more but I had to stop somewhere).
What excites you the most? I think Star Wars Land may be the biggest news because I had no idea that was coming but it is all great. Let me know your thoughts about any of it in comments.
It’s a great time to be a movie fan and especially a Disney fan!
Next we may be talking about the cutest Disney movie they have ever produced, 1955’s Lady and the Tramp. While I prefer Disney’s more ambitious, riskier endeavors I have a place in my heart for the sweet and sentimental pictures too.
I mean I am not a dog person but your first glimpse of Lady is pretty adorable:
In the 1940s and 50s dog pictures were very popular for families. Film series like the 3 Lassie movies (and TV show starts in 1954), and a series called Kirby Grant Chinook the Wonder Dog were very successful.
It also should be obvious to anyone who has been to Disneyland that Walt Disney had a fondness for turn of the century wholesome small town Americana. Lady and the Tramp was released a month before Disneyland opened and we can see it’s influence in the film and perhaps the films influence on Disneyland.
Joe Grant, a Disney animator, had an English Springer Spaniel and he was telling Walt about how the dog had been shoved aside a little bit when they had their first baby. He then worked on sketches of this idea for nearly 20 years from the 30s through the 40s, but Walt Disney didn’t like any of the projects presented to him because there wasn’t enough action, enough for the characters to do.
Then Walt heard of a book called Happy Dan, the Whistling Dog by Ward Green. The only dog in the book is the Tramp, but Walt liked it and combined it with Joe’s idea and began work in earnest on Lady and the Tramp.
The artistry in Lady and the Tramp isn’t abstract or different but it is beautiful in it’s own way. It looks like a Norman Rockwell cover for the Saturday Evening Post.
The fir also looks great on all of the dogs and they all look adorable while still looking like their obvious breeds. I say that knowing very little about dogs.
The voicework is excellent. I particularly like Jock and Trusty. Jock is a scottish terrier voiced by Bill Thompson in a full Scottish accent and Trusty is a bloodhound voiced by Bill Baucon
Lady and the Tramp is the first movie to be released by Disney in Cinemascope and it was a huge hit for them.
The soundtrack was also one of Disney’s most successful with songs written by Peggy Lee. She sings in He’s a Tramp, La,La,La and Siamese cats . There is a jazzy feel to the whole soundtrack that I love.
The story begins with Lady being given as a gift from the male owner (Jim Dear) to his wife (Darling) as a Christmas gift. The beginning zoom in on the window with the Christmas tree is right out of Currier and Ives scene.
Lady is petted and pampered until a baby comes into the picture and she is warned by a mongrel called The Tramp that this will lead to no good. She ignores it but starts to get nervous when she see’s some changes.
Then one Sunday the Darlings decide to go away and Aunt Sarah comes to take care of the baby. She is voiced once again by the amazing Verna Felton; although, this is a smaller role for her.
Aunt Sarah is well meaning but she does not care for Lady and brings 2 rather disagreeable cats.
I don’t know what cats ever did to Disney but he seemed to have it out for them! I guess Figero in Pinocchio was a nice cat. Still not many!
The strange thing about the Siamese cats is they come in, sing their creepy song, and then you hardly see them again in the movie. The end of the movie the rat is the villain not the cats which seems strange. Why not use a villain if you’ve already got them set up with a song.
I also think it is the first time a villain actually sings a villain song. Something that would become a Disney staple later on.
Like almost anything Hollywood did in the 50s with Asian characters the song does fall prey to stereotypes and is a kind of creepy but not always in a good way.
It doesn’t bother me the way the Red Man song in Peter Pan did because it is brief and the characters are standard villain. It doesn’t try to explain the Siamese race like Red Man does.
If it bothers or offends you I totally understand but it is easy to skip over.
However, I do like the cats slithering, slimy nature. I’d be nervous if they were around me slinking around (although doesn’t take much for me to be uncomfortable around strange animals). That’s why it is such a surprise they aren’t seen again in the movie.
So Lady protects the baby from the cats and Aunt Sarah takes her to the pet store to have a muzzle put on.
I mean the inhumanity!!
She runs away and meets Tramp. He helps her remove the muzzle and they end up eating some Italian food in one of the most famous scenes in all of Disney:
However, after their romantic night (feel funny saying that about dogs!) Tramp looses Lady and she ends up going to the pound. Terrified she meets an assortment of characters that are a lot of fun.
But it starts out very sad and if this doesn’t pull at your heart strings you may want to examine yourself… 😉
She also meets Trixie who tells Lady all about The Tramp:
Now that is a great song! Peggy Lee is wonderful and what a neat way to introduce kids to the whole idea of jazz music.
Learning about all of this Lady breaks up with Tramp when she see’s him and Aunt Sarah chains her to the doghouse. There’s a cute scene where Jock and Trusty propose to Lady to keep her safe.
That night Lady see’s the rat going into the baby’s room. Sarah tells her to stop barking but The Tramp hears her and goes after the rat, upsetting the room while he does it.
When Sarah see’s it she sends The Tramp to the pound but Trusty and Jock race after the cart, saving the day. Luckily Sarah see’s the rat and Jim Dear and Darling come home and everything is made right in time for another Christmas. (This is definitely the most holiday themed Disney movie)
Lady and the Tramp is kind of a like a popsicle in the summer. It’s sweet and sticky but you love it anyway. Everything about it is so well done. The backgrounds are picturesque and pretty, voice work is great, dogs are super cute, jazz soundtrack is fun, and there is that great spaghetti scene.
It’s not the Disney which is going to challenge you or frighten younger kids. It’s just a sweet simple story told with a lovely color pallet and a lot of charming dog characters.
I do think 101 Dalmatians is a little bit better because of Cruella but it is also a lot scarier for very young kids. This is the Disney movie you can watch with kids under 5 and I’m not sure you can say that with any of the others.