As summer drifts toward school, I’ve been busy trying to soak up every last minute of unstructured time with my kids. This is the first summer that I’ve had the flexibility to be at home with my children since my daughter was born in 2006. She’s 15 now, and there just aren’t that many days left with her hanging around the place, you know? We need to make the most of the time that we have left before school begins, before she scurries off to a summer job next year, and then to college two years after that, and then before you know it, my other two children will be following her out the door, and then I’ll be an empty nester. Just like that.
The reason time is so precious is because we know that it is fleeting. Factors in the world, from disease to accidents to natural consequences of living in a broken world, put time in a pressure cooker. But what if there was something in the world that could release the pressure, something with tremendous healing power to eradicate sickness and prolong life? Would you go to the ends of the earth to find it?
We didn’t go to the ends of the earth, but we did find a local drive-in movie theater to watch Jungle Cruise, the adventure-filled tale of a comedic team in pursuit of an ancient tree with the incredible power to heal. It didn’t extend our lives, but it did fill it with a few more memories we can share as we travel together into the future.
Jungle Cruise: What to Expect
Jungle Cruise is Disney’s latest adventure film featuring Emily Blunt and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as they cascade down the Amazon in search of “the tear of the moon,” an ancient tree that legend says possesses unparalleled healing abilities. Dwayne Johnson plays Frank Wolff, an Amazon riverboat tour guide and unlikely companion to lead Dr. Lily Houghton, played by Emily Blunt, deep into the Amazonian rainforest in pursuit of the tree. Guided by an ancient arrowhead, Dr. Houghton possesses the key that no one else has had access to in over 400 years, the key that will open the mystery of the legend and point them in the right direction to revolutionize the world of medicine.
Naturally, there are those who would like to get their hands on the powerful healing powers to be used for evil purposes, and they are in hot pursuit of Lily and Frank. Prince Joachim, played by Jesse Plemons, wants the gifts of the tree to keep the German army strong and powerful as it battles in World War I.
As Jungle Cruise is rated PG-13 and lands squarely in the camp of Indiana Jones and The Pirates of the Caribbean; parental discretion is advised. My kiddos love magic and adventure and can handle a little bit of squeamish, supernaturally undead old guys, but if that isn’t for your kids, you might pass on this one for a few years.
Finding the Love: Faithifying Your Viewing
According to Genesis 1:11-13, on the third day of Creation, God made all of the plants and trees that bear fruit across the earth. The Food and Agriculture Society estimates that there are around 50,000 plants with medicinal qualities that have been used across the world. God built into Creation plants and herbs that can prevent or treat illnesses and disease, and all of modern medicine and traditional medicine is built upon seeking out these gifts of the earth.
When a legend like the healing powers of the ancient tree in Jungle Cruise is made known, its power is something we want to see used for good in the world. But there are always those who want to use power for their own gain, to have dominion over others. People’s entire lives have been dedicated to both ends: pursuing health and healing for the good of all, and pursuing health and healing for the power of one, or some, at the expense of others.
Someone has to be brave enough to stand up against the powers and principalities that govern this world. This is the draw for me and my kids to any high stakes adventure films. Brave characters demonstrate the courage and fortitude to fight for good, even at the risk of their own lives. The characters in Jungle Cruise learn the power of love to change minds. They make great sacrifices for the good of others at the expense of themselves (like Jesus says in John 15:13). They are strong and courageous. They love others as much as they love themselves. And all the while, they do it with charm and wit, laughter and learning. Just like we evolve in our relationships over time, we see Frank and Lily evolve as well.
In many ways, Lily is in pursuit of a pearl of great value, which is what Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls,” Jesus said. “When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46 NIV). The kingdom of heaven is so valuable, everything else is worth trading to get it. The kingdom of heaven—God’s kingdom of love and peace—is worth selling everything we own to possess it.
Without giving too much away, Jungle Cruise invites us to think about what we would do with ourselves if we had all the time in the world. Would we want all the time in the world? The Teacher in Ecclesiastes worried over the purpose of all his time under the sun, concluding it was best to live your days at peace, in relationship with God, striving to keep his commandments. Lily has her one life to find the tear of the moon that can heal the world. Jesus’ life lasted just 33 years and yet within those constraints, he changed the course of human history. Do we need the promised end of our lives to create a sense of urgency, to live life fully, right now, with the purpose of loving God and loving others as the driving force?
There’s only so much time left in the summer—Jungle Cruise is a high stakes film you won’t want to miss. Cruise into a new adventure before it’s too late!