It can be hard to explain what makes a movie like “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” work as well as it does. Is it the adventure of flying on giant bees and exploring Atlantis? Is it the banter between Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Michael Caine? Or is it the silliness of Luis Guzman?
It certainly isn’t the predictable story or the questionable science. Despite all the glaring drawbacks of sending a troop of explorers to a cartoonish mysterious island, I thoroughly enjoyed this family film.
Sean (Josh Hutcherson) has issues with his beefy step-father, Hank (Johnson), but the two find common ground when they solve, in about two minutes no less, the puzzling mystery of the Mysterious Island of Jules Vernes’ book. Off they go to find it, and to rescue Sean’s grandfather (Caine). Joined by a silly helicopter pilot (Guzman) and his lovely daughter (Vanessa Hudgens), the crew crashes on said island and sets off to explore the tiny elephants, giant lizards, and molten golden volancoes. But, as Hank discovers in another sudden scientific discovery, the island is rapidly sinking and they must find a way to escape.
It’s all too silly for words, the science ridiculous, the scenery on par with a Disney theme ride.
And yet, the chemistry between Johnson, Caine, and Guzman made the whole thing fun. They, clearly, are having a good time in this unlikely place and carry the parents along with them. Children will already be captivated by the wild adventure, the mind-blowing giant butterflies and the thrashing sea.
Adults will enjoy Johnson constantly mocking Caine as an old lady or Guzman’s simple hearted desire to do right by his daughter, even if it means a foolish quest for riches. They’ll also appreciate the utter lack of adult humor or questionable content. It’s rated PG for some mild peril (including a scene with a skeleton).
Even the pec-pop-of-love, in which Johnson pokes fun at his famous manly pecs, is strictly G-rated and a wild crowd-pleaser.
Everybody has a good time. Everybody enjoys some popcorn. Exactly what a family trip to the movies should be.