A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jungle is a survival drama based on the true story of Yossi Ghinsberg, who was lost in the Amazon for three weeks in 1981. The movie is more monotonous and uncomfortable than it is thrilling, shocking, or inspiring, but Daniel Radcliffe fans may find something worthwhile in his performance. Expect to see some disturbing imagery, including a monkey being shot and killed, bludgeoned, and eaten; digging a worm-like thing out from under human skin; eating a bird fetus; and some gory wounds. Language is strong, with several uses of "f--k" and "s--t." Characters take a cactus-based hallucinatory drug, as well as speed, and there are scenes of smoking and social drinking. A man and a woman are assumed to be naked under a blanket, and they're shown kissing; naked bottoms are seen when men bathe in a river.
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What's the story?
In JUNGLE, which is based on a true story, Israeli adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) heads to Bolivia. There, he meets Marcus (Joel Jackson) and Marcus' best friend, photographer Kevin (Alex Russell). After some gadding about, Yossi then meets explorer Karl (Thomas Kretschmann), who offers to take the others deep into the Amazonian jungle to observe a remote tribe of people and possibly find gold. Before long, Marcus starts having trouble with his feet, and Yossi and Kevin are left on their own. But an accident on a river separates them, and Yossi finds himself alone, without supplies. Kevin searches for him, but it's a big jungle ... can Yossi survive until rescue comes?
Is it any good?
Exploitation director Greg McLean chooses a numbingly middling approach to tell this true exploration story; the movie is too blunt to be sympathetic but also too careful to be thrilling. Even as Jungle begins with its most innocuous scenes, McLean adopts a short attention-span approach, cutting every couple of seconds and creating a monotonous rhythm, a blur of movements and events. It feels too controlled for anything to happen organically. It never slows down long enough for viewers to get to know the characters, nor does it speed up enough to achieve a decent pace.
Frankly it's surprising that McLean, whose previous movies (including Wolf Creek and The Belko Experiment) have pushed the envelope for gore, should tone down Jungle, as if attempting to respect its true story ... or trying to elevate his career to some degree of credibility. By the time the movie gets to its climax, with Yossi alone in the jungle and doing whatever it takes to survive, it fails to be either shocking or thrilling. It's merely uncomfortable. Give Radcliffe credit, though, for his demanding physical performance; post-Harry Potter, he continues to select challenging projects.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Jungle's violence. Does it seem less intense when it's depicted in terms of survival, rather than inflicting harm? Why or why not?
Is Ghinsberg a role model? Why or why not?
Is the movie's depiction of survival heroic? Is it less heroic when the characters are reckless to begin with?
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