In the brand new adventure Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the tables are turned as four teenagers in detention are sucked into the world of Jumanji. When they discover an old video game console with a game they’ve never heard of, they are immediately thrust into the game’s jungle setting, into the bodies of their avatars, played by Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan. What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji –Jumanji plays you. They’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, or they’ll be stuck in the game forever…
What We Thought:
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is better than it has any right being. No one really understood why they were rebooting/remaking Jumanji and ultimately the film ends up being sort of a sequel to the Robin Williams’s film. It’s also a lot of fun.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie is dumb, but it’s that dumb fun you find yourself laughing at more often than not. You have a cast that simply makes it work. Dwayne Johnson is one of the most charismatic people on the planet. Kevin Hart is one of the funniest people in the world. Jack Black, to me, has lost a step or two over the past few years, but he’s back in form in this. Then there’s Karen Gillan. As a Whovian and fan of The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, I’m well aware of the amazing redheaded Scot. For those who might not be that familiar with her, she shines in this.
The concept for the film allows each actor to really create something of their own. Four teens are transported into the game and become avatars. The personalities of the teens are inside the bodies of their new avatars. You have the geek now inside the body of The Rock. You have the star athlete (named Fridge) transported into the body of Kevin Hart. You have the vapid teen girl who loves Instagram now inside the overweight, middle-aged body of Jack Black. And you have the quiet, doesn’t really know she’s hot, teen girl in the ridiculously amazing body of Karen Gillan.
That’s why the movie works, you have these four comic leads getting to play teen characters in their current bodies. Jack Black as a hot teenaged girl is funny especially when he needs to use the bathroom and doesn’t have their cell phone. And it’s funny watching him look at The Rock like a young girl would. Kevin Hart is a tiny guy, but is playing a big guy in a tiny body who can no longer run fast, be strong or the alpha. You have Dwayne Johnson not being the strong type initially because his personality is that of a teen dweeb. And watching Karen Gillan’s character learning to flirt and seduce men was hilarious.
It’s not groundbreaking material, but it’s not trying to be either. I walked out of the movie with a smile on my face and more positives than most movies I’ve seen lately. For a movie I was hesitant about, it checkmarked everything you want in a silly comedy and then some. It also tackles issues and has a message without beating you over the head with it. It talks about teamwork, why old friendships fall apart, the social statutes of high school kids, body image and looks, reliance on technology and much more. But it does it in an entertaining way without every trope movies use today to point out messages.
In a year filled with remakes, reboots, sequels and disappointment, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is exactly what I want in a movie like this. It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel and allows its uber talented cast to do what they do best. If you are tired of comic book movies, over hyped science fiction films and just want a dumb good time, this is the best movie at the theater for that. I hope it does well and it gets the sequel Jumanji: Paradise City.
Cast & Crew:
- Dwayne Johnson
- Jack Black
- Kevin Hart
- Karen Gillan
- Nick Jonas
- Bobby Cannavale
- Rhys Darby