Discussion Packet

Jungle Cruise (2021) – Discussion Guide

Discussion Guide:

  1. Who was your favorite character in the movie? Why?
    Caregiver Note: This is mostly just a fun question to get the conversation going! However, talking about our favorite characters and why we like them can offer a lot of insight into our own selves. For example, maybe a child identifies with Lily because she’s self-sufficient or Frank because he is lonely but covers that up with his bravado. The important thing with this question is to explore the why behind the choice. If children are reluctant to start a conversation it can help for you to go first and talk about your favorite character to get things going.
  2. We see Lily steal the arrowhead from the museum and later Frank steals back the engine to his boat even though he has not paid it off yet. Do you think they were right or wrong in their actions?
    Caregiver Note: Lily and Frank are both viewed as the heroes in the movie and yet we see both of them engage in behavior that is wrong, such as stealing. In some cases, it can be hard to reconcile that a ‘good’ character is doing a ‘bad’ thing so it’s worth having a conversation about. Does your youth feel like ‘the end justifies the means’ in this case? Is Frank right to take back the engine because the (loaner man) isn’t a nice guy and Frank is trying to help someone? Is Lily justified in taking the arrowhead because no one listened to her when she asked nicely? These are tricky questions for anyone, but youth who have experienced trauma may have an even harder time navigating moral grey areas and understanding the nuances or right and wrong. This could open up a great conversation about a difficult topic. It’s also a great way to remind them that just because someone does a ‘bad’ thing, it doesn’t make them a bad person. Frank and Lily are both heroes, despite the fact that they sometimes make poor choices or break the rules.
  3. How do you think Lily feels when she finds out that everything Frank does is part of an act and isn’t real? Have you ever experienced something similar? How did it make you feel?
    Caregiver Note: It can be very overwhelming to believe something was real only to find out that someone was ‘just pretending’. Children who have experienced trauma at the hands of their caregivers often feel especially sensitive to betrayals as they likely felt that same sense of a rug being pulled out from beneath them. It’s also interesting to see that this is the first time Frank realizes that one of his scams genuinely hurt someone he cares about, which can be another great realization to talk about here.
  1. McGregor clearly does not like being outside in the wilderness and is well outside of his comfort zone on this trip. Why did he come with Lily even though it means sacrificing his own happiness?
    Caregiver Note: We learn that McGregor feels an intense loyalty to Lily because she supported him when everyone else in his family turned on him for being gay. He cares a lot for his sister and is willing to do anything to help her, even if it means making sacrifices and doing something that scares him. Biological siblings who experienced trauma together often form incredibly close bonds. This question can be a great way to talk about their own sibling relationships.
  1. Lily is very self-sufficient and independent, sometimes having a difficult time accepting help. Do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing? Does this change throughout the movie?
    Caregiver Note: Independence and self-sufficiency are great qualities, but even positive qualities can be detrimental when there’s too much of them. Lily is often reluctant to accept help because she has a hard time trusting others to really have her best interest at heart. Children who have been through trauma are likely to relate very strongly to this. Because of their lack of positive caregiving, they often had to take care of themselves or even their siblings and can have a very difficult time trusting adults. Talking about their opinion of Lily’s self-sufficiency and how she learns to trust others and accept help could be a great way to start a dialogue about how you can help them learn to trust you.
  1. How does Lily’s trust towards Frank change throughout the movie? What kinds of things cause her to trust or distrust him?
    Caregiver Note: The conversation here goes along with the previous question, as Lily’s willingness to accept help is interconnected to developing trust in him. Talk to children about how you can help demonstrate your support of them and ways in which you can work on building that trust together so that they are able to accept help from you when they need it.
  1. How do you think Frank felt being alone all those hundreds of years? What kinds of things did he do to help with his loneliness?
    Caregiver Note: We learn that Frank was one of the cursed conquistadores and is 400 years old. He is also the only one who wasn’t frozen in place so he lived a very solitary life without any real family and friends that he greatly outlived. One of the ways Frank was able to combat his loneliness was through hobbies and learning new things (drawing, playing instruments). He also talks about how he started taking in orphaned jungle animals and caring for them. This could be a great way to talk to youth about strategies they can utilize when they feel lonely or sad, as well as to remind them of the importance of having a ‘village’ of people around them and that you are part of that village.
  1. Do you think it was hard for Frank to stand up to Aguirre? Why do you think he made that choice even though it was hard?
    Caregiver Note: It can be very difficult to stand up to those we care about. For children who have been through trauma this can be an especially hard thing. They feel a strong loyalty to their biological family and may feel a lot of guilt for being happy or developing relationships with new caregivers. They may also have felt like they were responsible for breaking their family apart if they disclosed abuse or neglect that resulted in removal from their home. Frank was raised alongside Aguirre as brothers so it was probably very upsetting for him to disagree and fight against him. However, Aguirre was making a bad choice by slaughtering innocent people and so Frank felt like it was something he needed to do. This can be a great way to talk about how you can love someone without necessarily supporting all of their decisions and that it’s okay to have a different belief than a family member.
  1. Lily is afraid of the water because she doesn’t know how to swim. How is she able to overcome her fear? How can I help support you in facing your fears?
    Caregiver Note: As stated above, any severe phobia or anxiety should absolutely be discussed with a mental health professional so that it can be approached in a therapeutic and safe way. However, talking about the ways in which Frank gently encouraged and supported Lily to face her fear of swimming can be a great way to talk about how you can best support your youth when they have to try new things or do something they’re nervous about.
  1. Frank and Lily both want different things in the end: Frank wants a chance to ‘rest’ because he feels like he’s lived long enough. Lily wants Frank to come back to England with her. How to they reconcile this? Do you think they made the right choice?
    Caregiver Note: This is another question where there isn’t really a ‘right’ answer but it’s an interesting one to talk about. It can be hard when our loved ones want something different for themselves than we want for them. Either choice that gets made here requires a sacrifice; if Frank gets what he wants (to rest), it means that Lily has to say goodbye and never see him again. If Lily gets what she wants, Frank has to give up his chance for peace and possibly not be able to end the curse and stop Aguirre for good. It can be hard to let go of a loved one, but sometimes it’s necessary to say goodbye in order to support what they need and want.

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About the Author: Jenn Ehlers

Jenn is a central Virginia native who received her BA in Psychology from the University of Virginia in 2012. Since then she has worked for a local mental health agency and the Department of Social Services in various capacities and has been involved in her community’s efforts to create a Trauma Informed Network. Currently Jenn works in vocational rehab and mentors youth in foster care. When she isn’t working, Jenn enjoys writing stories, anything and everything Harry Potter, and spending time with her niece and nephew.

**Transfiguring Adoption is a nonprofit organization seeking to nurture growth in foster and adoptive families by giving a HOOT about their families. Transfiguring Adoption does not intend for its reviewers nor its review to be professional, medical or legal advice. These reviews and discussion guides are intended to help parents to better be able to connect and understand their children who come from traumatic backgrounds.


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