Directed by: Jake Kasdan
Release Date: December 20, 2017
Every other weekend I’m seeing another sequel/remake/reboot of something from my childhood. One look at my feelings on things like IT and Stranger Things will tell you I’m in no way opposed to jumping on the nostalgia train. However, it does get a little bit much from time to time to always rehash old things and while there’s a lot of good out there… there’s also Independence Day: Resurgence. I find myself always TRYING to keep one foot on the ground when I see a trailer.
In 1995, I saw Jumanji and it was incredible. Honestly, it should be listed as one of those movies which shaped my imagination. It was scary and funny and to an 8 year old the danger was “real”. So, to say that I was going to hold Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle to some tough standards was an understatement. I was going to have to try and be objective and keep an open mind. Which was tough because those first few set photos were not inspiring any kind of confidence. What do you mean it wasn’t going to feature a board game? What do you mean it’ll star Dwayne Johnson?? It’s supposed to be about kids! Is that really what Karen Gillian is wearing?! What is this?!
I am happy to say that my snap judgments were WRONG. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a lot of fun in a very surprising way. It was silly and funny and often times didn’t go the easy route with the obvious jokes that it could have (yes there was still some penis humor but it was hysterical so all is forgiven).
Here’s the rundown:
Board games have fallen out of fashion (not at my game nights but ya know youths) forcing Jumanji to morph into something more appealing. It becomes a video game which sucks the players into the game itself. While in the game the players become the avatars they chose and have to adhere to the rules and constraints of the game.
The actors is where the movie really shines. Had this film not had the right cast, it would have been a disaster. Dwayne Johnson, who is more smoldering Dr. Braveheart, played a scared lanky teenage boy and never once did I not believe him. Which was a nice change since a lot of the time Dwayne Johnson is usually playing Dwayne The Rock Johnson a lot of the time. Jack Black plays a teenage girl and he hit it out of the park. My favorite part is that it didn’t feel like a parody and it didn’t feel like a mockery of teenage girls. Jack Black was simply a teenage girl and that was who she was. It was refreshing not to get caught up in the obvious jokes. Karen Gillian, what can’t I say about her? Love her. Kevin Hart pretty much plays Kevin Hart throughout the film, but there’s really nothing funnier than watching Kevin Hart stuck in a killer video game jungle and just wanting to go home. So it works.
Something that I just have to comment on is how quickly Beverly and Martha squashed whatever it was which had them at odds with each other when it first began. It was the same boring trope of pretty girl vs nerdy girl. Guess what though… very quickly after getting sucked into the jungle they talked it out and moved on. They were fast friends who supported and helped each other. Judging went out the door and it was wonderful to see two female characters NOT be at odds with each other.
Side Note: I welcome the discussion of whether or not this counts as passing the Bechdel test.
Finally, like always I hope if you go see this film, you see it with a fun group of people. The audiences at a screening are always so much more engaged than your standard Friday night crowd. There’s nothing like hearing an entire crowd scream in laughter or gasp in shock all at the same time. It makes the movie experience that much more fun when you know that everyone around you is enjoying the film just as much as you are.
PS. You will have the song stuck in your for the next few days. It is simply unavoidable.