Movie: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
My Rating: 5 stars
Well, this movie was an unexpected delight. It had it all—a bit of nostalgia, a cheeky sense of humor, hilarious acting, a sense of childlike fun and whimsy. I’m a fan. In fact, this movie was so much fun that I’m pretty excited to watch it again. When the first Jumanji came out in 1995, my brother and I were at an age when we thought this movie was just about the coolest thing ever. I liked the idea of Safari-wear. My brother liked the idea of turning into a monkey. Actually, I think both of us liked both of those things. But mostly, the idea of getting sucked into an adventure bard game with real life-or-death consequences felt very exciting. And of course, at the time, those lumbering, CGI animals were the height of technological achievement.
I love the conceit of this movie. The “spirit” inside the old Jumanji board game, sensing that no one was really interested that kind of old-fashioned toy anymore, transferred itself into a videogame cartridge, so as to better lure in its prey. It was an ingenious way to update the story, while capturing enough of the original character of the first movie to elicit plenty of nostalgia. It sure worked on me. And, I like how the mechanics of the game were similarly updated to include the typical tropes of a cooperative video-game—lives, inventory, different skills and weaknesses, delightfully deadpan NPCs. The tongue-in-cheek tone was spot on, and I was completely charmed. Even though the first movie was released more than twenty years ago, I had liked it so much at the time, that I didn’t even have to go back and re-watch it to catch all the references to it in this one.
This movie was also cast really well. You can’t get much funnier actors than Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Rhys Darby, and Jack Black. And you can’t much more charming than Karen Gillan and Nick Jonas. And, I loved that the high-school kids that were supposedly inhabiting these video game avatars were almost completely opposite in personality from what their characters were supposed to be. That’s a difficult feat of acting to pull of believably, and they all accomplished it perfectly. I highly recommend this movie to everyone. I think it’s pretty family friendly. And, it would definitely appeal to a wide variety of personalities. And, it’s a wonderfully corny, yet exciting, good time.