SPOILERS are ahead for the latest Disney film, Jungle Cruise and 1999’s The Mummy.
Ever get deja vu while watching a movie for the first time? It’s happened to all of us on some level as some storylines are reminiscent of or are purposefully influenced by others but, when it comes to watching Jungle Cruise, there are so many parallels that I’d suggest that can feel like a remake of 1999’s The Mummy. And I would know – I’ve watched the modern classic starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz so, so many times.
Though The Mummy is not without its influences, be that between its previous iterations dating back to the ‘30s or Indiana Jones, it has become an adventure classic in the years following its release. Heck, bumper stickers that say “honk if you’d rather be watching the 1999 cinematic masterpiece The Mummy” exist and are sold, and have become popular enough that Rachel Weisz even knows about it. So when a movie like Jungle Cruise emulates it, we need to give credit where credit is due. It’s going to be tough to unsee this.
Lily And MacGregor Are Clearly Evie And Jonathan
The most obvious comparison to draw here is the sibling dynamic at play throughout The Mummy and Jungle Cruise. In The Mummy, siblings Evie and Jonathan (played by Weisz and John Hannah) embark on a quest to find the ancient city of Hamunaptra together, and Brendan Fraser’s Rick O’Connell is the third piece they need to guide them there. In Jungle Cruise, Emily Blunt and Jack Whitehall’s Lily and MacGregor have virtually the same sibling energy as they do.
In The Mummy, Evie is the more strong-willed and clever of the two, and Jonathan is really just loyal and along for the ride to be there with his sister. He doesn’t take part in the action really, and MacGregor is really the same person as Jonathan. Jack Whitehall and John Hannah even look alike. The single difference is MacGregor hinting that he is gay to Dwayne Johnson’s Frank during Jungle Cruise.
The Apathetic Guide With A Golden Heart
Then we have our own Rick O’Connell in Jungle Cruise through the character of Frank the Skipper. Frank is a mysterious fellow who becomes the guy Lily must team up with to go across the river and find the “Tears of the Moon,” a mythical tree that grows petals that can cure illnesses, heal injuries and lift curses. Dwayne Johnson's character comes off as selfish and shady in the first half of the film, often pushing Lily’s buttons with the woes of the adventure ahead. As the movie unfolds, we learn that Frank’s interest in the Tears of the Moon runs much deeper. His careless front wears off, as we learn he needs to be part of the mission to break the curse of his 400-year-old friends and lay them to rest.
In terms of The Mummy, Brendan Fraser’s action hero goes through a similar character arc, even if he’s not a cursed being. He similarly has a shady introduction with Evie, as she and Jonathan must save him from a public beheading before he can help them. With Frank, he poses as Paul Giamatti’s Nilo and fakes a heroic Jaguar fight with his pet. Both heroes are action-oriented and nab their charm through seeming nonchalant but actually end up being huge romantics and stand-up guys when push comes to shove.
The Love/Hate Chemistry Between Its Stars
My favorite thing about The Mummy has to be the iconic love affair Rick and Evie fall into during their action-packed, Egyptian adventure. In between all the action, the movie does a beautiful job of building the tension between these two so much that we want them to be together at the end just as we would with any rom-com. The pair begin their relationship with spit-fire digs at each other, which ignites a spark that we’d follow them into a tomb for. Rick’s feelings for Evie seem to start to motivate his decisions more than fame and glory, and the movie ultimately ends with Rick and Evie riding off into the sunset on a camel.
And Jungle Cruise takes a note here, too. In the Disney film, Frank and Lily's differences irk and challenge one another but, once they spend time together, their natural chemistry brings them together in an unexpected way. The characters' back-and-forths are some of the best parts of the movie and, much like The Mummy, it’s their unexpected romance that pulls us in and ends up being the true heart of the film.
The Key They Both Hold To Unlock An Ancient Secret
And the plot of Jungle Cruise is also very Mummy-esque, even though the settings and quests in the two films differ. To refresh your memory on The Mummy, the whole thing kicks off thanks to Jonathan finding an artifact that ends up being the key to opening the Book of the Dead. Once they find an item on their adventure, Evie accidentally awakens the Mummy, and they must reverse the resulting curse that has descended upon Egypt.
In Jungle Cruise, Emily Blunt’s character also holds the "key" to the Tears of the Moon around her neck, which is incredibly valuable to unlocking access to the all-healing petals. Sure, these kinds of artifacts turn up in adventure films all the time, but this and so many other similarities? Come on!
The Ancient Curse The Villains Are Trying To Break
The real nail in the coffin here is how similar the villains are. In The Mummy, we learn the backstory of Imhotep, who was punished for having an affair in ancient Egypt by being buried alive as a mummy, with flesh-eating scarab beetles. When Evie awakens him, he unleashes his powers on the whole city and attempts to turn Evie into Anck-su-namun, the mistress he had to die for.
Jungle Cruise’s villain is Edgar Ramirez's Aguirre, who is a Conquistador who lost his daughter to an illness and became cursed to immortality (as a slithering snake man) after seeking the tree’s power. Frank makes it his mission to lift their curse so they can rest in peace, after Aguirre hunts for the tree’s powers as well.
It’s interesting to see how the two movies, which have a decades-long gap between them, compare with each other. Jungle Cruise definitely seems to have been influenced by the classic adventure movie, and it makes for a fun double feature. Since The Mummy was the one I grew up with, that’s still my top choice, but what do you think? The Mummy or Jungle Cruise? Vote in our poll below.