I have one question: WHY? Disney is gearing up to take the beloved Toy Story duo, Tim Allen and Tom Hanks, and plop them into another movie inspired by a ride at Disneyland. The Jungle Cruise has also got R.H. Shulman (Shrek, Jungle Book 2) on board as a writer and the duo who produced The Fighter are behind the film as well.
Hanks and Allen work well together and Shulman wrote Shrek, so maybe it will be a good time, but probably not. There are a million other stories they could tell, do they have to keep going back to the Disneyland well? Not to mention the fact that there are a ton of other rides that would be ten times better as a jumping off point for a movie. Big Thunder Railroad? Space Mountain? The river raft to Tom Sawyer Island? The Toon Town Trolley? The Carousel of Progress? The Mickey Mouse stroller I pushed my three year old cousin around that time I took her to visit?
Do you want to know why people love the Jungle Cruise (all fifteen of them, with 12 of those being me and my cousins)? Because we grew up with it. I’m pretty sure most people ride the Jungle Cruise because it offers shade and a guaranteed wait of less than 15 minutes which is theme park gold. No one is clamoring to see the rubbery animatronic animals go clack-clack-clack, or hear jokes about how the fake lions are just guarding that sleeping (dead) zebra, or to marvel at the glory and the wonder of the BACKSIDE OF WATER! (Google it.) It’s nostalgia, shade, or nothing. Sure, an adventure on a boat in the jungle could be fun (unless it’s in Anaconda), but why does it have to be directly connected to the ride? Why can’t they just put their own Disney spin on a jungle movie with some killer original characters instead of leaning on an ancient ride whose jokes are only good because we already know them? Do you know what Toy Story was based off of? CHILDHOOD, not the Disneyland Emporium full of heaps and heaps of toys or some twisted connection to It’s a Small World. Why? Because the theme was strong enough. They didn’t need to connect it to a ride in hopes of creating a cash cow. And, you know what? Last time I checked that little flick did pretty well.
Lastly, just because Hanks and Allen pair well in Toy Story doesn’t mean they pair well in everything. The last thing I enjoyed seeing Tim Allen in (not just hearing his voice) was The Santa Claus and that’s because it was Christmastime and I love Christmas. The reason they work so well in Toy Story comes back to the element of character; Woody and Buzz and fantastic characters. We don’t love them just because of the stars who do the voices, we love the stars more because they voice the characters. It’s not enough to have great voices or big stars and easily recognizable title. (Case and point: The Haunted Mansion starring Eddie Murphy.) This film will probably do just fine at the box office if and when it gets off the ground, but that doesn’t mean it will be good. And every time Disney makes more half-assed movies because they make enough money, my heart breaks a little bit.