There’s nothing wrong, or new, about movies sticking to formulas.
Does anyone want the guy and gal not to end up together in a rom-com finale? Should John McClane meet his Maker rather than dispatch the euro-thugs in “Die Hard?”
Woke movies are different, though.
The new film bylaws offer a fresh round of surprise-free storytelling. Social justice scribes shape their screenplays in very particular ways, and it doesn’t take Columbo to suss them out. You won’t find a better example than Disney’s “Jungle Cruise.”
Story spoilers ahead:
The Disney blockbuster stars Emily Blunt as a scientist on the hunt for a legendary flower, one with the power to cure any illness. Dwayne Johnson plays the skipper guiding Blunt’s character down the Amazon river to see if it’s just a legend, or the real deal.
The action takes place circa 1916, and the period details capture that era to the letter. It helps to have all that Mouse House cash at a film’s disposal.
The woke nods begin almost immediately. Blunt’s character, Dr. Lily Houghton, sounds like a character out of a 2021 Blue State. She dresses like a man, not a woman, begs various characters to free the caged animals in their keep and refuses her skipper’s advice even though he has decades of experience at the helm.
Don’t mansplain to Dr. Houghton!
Right away audiences know Lily will be darn near flawless and, by extension, far less interesting than the filmmakers hope. And they’re right. Even her one sizable flaw – she can’t swim – is swept aside in the third act.
Astute film watchers will quickly predict a few shots at the patriarchy in that first act, and they arrive right on cue. To be fair, it is cute when Johnson’s skipper calls Lily “Pants.”
Lily’s brother, McGregor (Jack Whitehall), joins the jungle cruise along with his parade of wildly inappropriate ensembles. He may look smashing, but you don’t pack your best duds for an arduous trek down the river.
McGregor is consistently mocked during the first act, ridiculed for his dandy behavior and disconnect from the mission. Then, he confesses to Johnson’s Frank Wolff that he’s close to his sister for more reasons than usual. She’s stood by him while others teased him for being, well, the film can’t have him say, “I’m gay,” so he dances around the phrase but the meaning is perfectly clear.
The family-friendly romp stops cold to introduce a gay character whose sexuality adds nothing to the story beyond a virtue signal.
In real life, no one wants someone like McGregor to be mistreated in any way due to his sexuality. Here’s where things get complicated. In a movie set in the early 20th century, it’s likely a crusty skipper living in the Amazon isn’t so progressive toward that lifestyle.
Instead, Frank all but says, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” and the story moves on.
More importantly, the woke moment telegraphs the next stage of the film. Suddenly, McGregor is a worthy adventurer, and the comedy attacks on him all but vanish. A modern screenplay could make fun of a foppish fool, but it won’t do the same with an apparently gay character who revealed himself to his new friend.
Who saw that coming? Well, everyone who understands the cultural climate.
Lily, Frank and McGregor run into a group of natives not once, but twice. The second time finds the trio in serious trouble, surrounded by an aggressive band of armed and angry tribespeople.
Wait. This is a woke Disney adventure. There’s no way the film would recreate the often-demeaning portrayals of native tribes seen in films dating back to the 1933 “King Kong.”
There must be something afoot, so the chance that our heroes are actually in grave danger is slim to none, leaning hard toward none. Your assumptions are correct.
None of this is accidental.
We all know Disney, Inc. is one of the wokest companies on the planet – except when aligning itself with a nation known for running concentration camps against Uighur Muslims. Being woke means having massive holes in one’s moral compass.
The studio fired actress Gina Carano from “The Mandalorian” last year after her social media messages triggered Woke Nation. Meanwhile, “Mandalorian” star Pedro Pascal, who is openly liberal, shared a more aggressive version of the message that got her fired and suffered no professional comeuppance.
The company’s “anti-racist” employee rules similarly caught the public’s attention, preaching Critical Race Theory to its unsuspecting worker drones.
We’re seeing that woke spirit permeate its blockbuster entries, a trend that unofficially started with the progressive posturing that helped sink “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in 2017.
The recent “Cruella” made a legendary villain into a heroine, of sorts, because she represented Girl Power on steroids.
Woke is officially part of the company’s creative DNA, with “Jungle Cruise” being the latest example. What’s worse? Knowing a film studio has gone woke means less surprises, and diminishing returns, at your local movie house.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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