Wednesday, 17 July 2024

‘Jungle Cruise’ wild adventure; ‘Hooch’ a TV reboot


Anyone who has been to Disneyland since 1955 has probably been on the Jungle Cruise adventure ride where young tour guides take passengers on a tongue-in-cheek journey through treacherous rivers.

Disney’s “Jungle Cruise,” starring Dwayne Johnson as skipper Frank Wolff, takes a cue from its theme-park attraction.

Naive tourists around the time of World War I are either amused or terrified by Frank’s Amazon River excursions during which he delivers corny jokes.

Meanwhile, in London Emily Blunt’s Dr. Lily Houghton confronts a male chauvinist scientific group with a vain pitch to explore the rain forests to obtain a flower petal from a fabled tree found in the Amazon that supposedly is a cure for all diseases.

Close on the heels of Dr. Lily is the villainous Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons) who seeks the petal for nefarious purposes for Germany long before Hitler launched his quest for world domination.

With her stuffy, uptight brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) in tow, Lily ends up hiring Frank after a series of amusing deceptions that involve taming a jaguar named Proxima and deceiving riverboat bigshot Nilo (Paul Giamatti).

Operating a rickety tour boat, Frank has to rely on guile and his charm, plus the fact that he’s a cheap hire, to take Lily and MacGregor on a trip that is dangerous not just for the rapids but for encounters with snakes and cannibals along the way.

The gruff, wisecracking Frank quickly starts bickering with Lily, calling her “Pants” because she wears trousers, and in turn Lily derisively calls him “Skippy.” The bantering continues throughout the journey, with an outcome you might suspect.

There’s also perilous danger at every turn when the trio is captured by a tribe of apparent headhunters led by a formidable woman, Trader Sam (Veronica Falcon), but that’s hardly the worst of it.

The supernatural comes into play with undead Spanish conquistadors who have been trapped in the Amazon for four centuries after a failed quest to retrieve a petal from the tree that is known as the Tears of the Moon.

As leader of the undead, Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez) and his crew, who have been cursed to remain stuck in the rain forest forever, bring a supernatural element to a climactic final confrontation.

Above all else, “Jungle Cruise” is really inspired by the classic Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn film “The African Queen.” Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt update the premise for a fun adventure the whole family may enjoy.


At first blush, the new series that remakes a 1989 Tom Hanks movie for the family-friendly Disney+ looks like it’s trying to determine whether it’s intended for a younger audience despite some of its edgier content.

The similarly named “Turner & Hooch” pays homage to Tom Hanks in that Josh Peck’s Scott Turner, the son of his film character, is now an uptight Deputy U.S. Marshal who inherits a giant unruly dog from his recently deceased father.

Based in San Francisco, the meticulous Scott finds his ordered life upended when his sister Laura (Lyndsy Fonseca) shows up at his door with the drooling Hooch, a massive junkyard dog who proceeds to destroy his tidy apartment.

Laughs ensue, of course, because Hooch chews more than the scenery as he moves about Scott’s immaculate abode with the destructive power of a Category 5 hurricane obliterating everything in its path. Well, so far so good for tame entertainment.

Since Scott is clueless on how to handle the French mastiff, he enlists help from attractive K-9 trainer Erica (Vanessa Lengies). Scott’s also oblivious to the signals from Erica of her interest in him, and that’s the way it goes for at least the first three episodes.

Rambunctious fun with the canine soon gives way to a more serious tone when Scott shows up at the office with Hooch, and a case of guarding a witness set to testify in a criminal trial goes awry when the subject of the Marshal’s protective detail is kidnapped.

While wrangling with his boss James Mendes (Anthony Ruivivar) for an opportunity to join the A-team led by Trent (Matt Hamilton), Scott is saddled with his pregnant partner Jessica (Carra Patterson) for more mundane assignments.

In one of the episodes, Scott’s involvement in the security detail for a hotel gathering of an Olympic Games delegation has him babysitting the young daughter of a diplomat.

But Hooch proves, even with his love for donuts, that he may be more intuitive and effective at police work in tracking down the criminals that abducted the witness than the veteran Marshals that are dismissive of Scott’s involvement.

Though the dad’s career was no more taxing than writing parking tickets, Scott and his sister discover a mysterious case file that their father was secretly investigating which may lead to a recurring subplot.

“Turner & Hooch” offers a mix of comedy and action, and yet there are times the level of violence, with shootouts and fistfights, feels out of place for the Disney family universe.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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