Movie Review: Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle

Welcome to the Jungle

What do you get when you have Jack Black pretending to be a teenage girl who’s obsessed with her social image? A hilarious mix of humorous dialog and a strange impersonation with impressive accuracy.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, a sort of sequel to the 1995 original which starred Robin Williams and Bonnie Hunt, is a hilarious movie filled with plenty of jokes for both the young audiences as well as the older generation that can appreciate good sexual innuendos.

The Story

Robin Williams in Jumanji

 

The film follows the lives of 4 young teenagers; Spencer, Fridge, Martha, and Bethany as they all end up in detention, each for different reasons. Each character represents some sort of stereotype with Spencer being the smart, awkward nerd who is unable to talk to girls. Fridge a football star who is in danger of being kicked off the team for poor grades. Martha is your typical social outcast who struggles judges everyone for fear of being judged herself and then finally there’s Bethany the dramatic beauty queen who spends more time on her looks on social media than everyone else. These 4 individuals must share detention by spending time in an old rundown facility that the school wants to turn into a computer lab. They stumble upon an old video game console. Conveniently enough there’s an old tv that supports it and the 4 of them start playing. Immediately after selecting their characters they are literally sucked into the game as the character they chose.

I won’t spoil any more of the movie because I think that it’s something worth watching with friends or family, but the first few minutes of being introduced to the game avatars were a bit weird.  Though once you get past the introductions of who is who, the jokes start rolling in and they do not stop. I found myself laughing out loud, something I usually try not to do often, throughout the movie.

Finding Jumanji

The plot was pretty straightforward, complete all the levels in the game and you are allowed to go back the real world, but the thing that I thought was interesting was that the movie pays homage to Robin Williams and the first Jumanji movie.  Welcome to the Jungle is supposed to take place 20 years after the events of Alan Parrish, played by the late Robin Williams.  The game is found by someone at a beach that’s near Brantford, New Hampshire which is where the events of the first movie take place.  We later see the man give the board game to his son Alex, played by Nick Jonas, where the game adapts itself to a video game so that people will play the game. I thought this was an interesting take on how to keep things relevant to an age of computers. If a board game can trap a young boy inside for decades, it’s not that much of a stretch to think that it can change itself into a video game.

The Characters

The main characters were for the most part believable, maybe a little too stereotypical for my taste, but it could be that this movie isn’t supposed to be taken seriously so having the typical nerd act insecure about himself only to find his inner courage after inheriting the body of a rock is acceptable.jumanji cast

Dwayne Johnson, who is one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, is not hilarious in his role but also can be very motivational when he wants to be, which turns out to be all the time.  If there’s one thing he does very well as an actor is giving any scene no matter how dull or cliche, a lot of energy. A prime example is when Dwayne’s character Dr. Smoulder Bravestone – who is the avatar representing Spencer – has to explain how the game works and that each character will have special skills and weakness. I think that this scene was in particular very cliche of an actual video game, which is weird since it’s usually the video game that will try explain the mechanics. But whatever, this is an immersion and Dr. Bravestone was hilarious to watch talking about video games while giving off several smolder stares into the distance.

Though I think the true hero of this film is Jack Black. Suffice to say I am a big fan ever since his School of Rock debut. It was almost scary seeing a full grown man act out the emotions of a teenage girl who has to deal with the pressures of an ever high school drama. Now I’m not saying what I know or begin to understand the realities that a high school has to deal with, but in my honest opinion I could very clearly visualize Jack Black, I mean Professor Shelly Oberon, embody the mind of Bethany; it was a very convincing performance.

Next is Kevin Hart’s character Franklin Moose (that’s pronounced mouse, not moose) Finbar aka your everyday item mule. This character is supposed to be the avatar of a high school football star nicknamed Fridge who’s over 6 feet tall, strong but has the mind of a stereotypical jock.  However for me, I felt like it was just Kevin Hart being typical Kevin Hart, not that he wasn’t funny mind you, but I didn’t feel like as a game avatar who’s supposed to actually be a high school football jock he was that convincing.  For me personally, I think it was just the tone of voice and the way the jokes were delivered didn’t sound like how I imagined Fridge to say them, but rather it’s just Kevin Hart laying out the jokes the way Kevin Hart does. So for that, I thought it could use a little work, but hey who am I to complain when I enjoyed interaction and reaction with Dr. Smoulder Bravestone.

Last but not least we have Ruby Roundhouse played by the ever so talented Karen Gillan. Karen Gillan as you may all recognize from Guardians of the Galaxy, who played the villainous Nebula, is the avatar for young Martha. I thought that out of all the characters she had some of the best scenes in the movie.  I liked how she at first a little uncomfortable with herself and asked rhetorical questions that normal people would be thinking when first pulled into the game such as why was her character wearing really high shorts and a revealing top. Let’s also not forget the fact that she kicked some serious ass. It’s always refreshing to find a strong female lead that’s more than just eye candy.

The Verdict

As long as there are no expectations, sort of how the first movie was, it is a family-fun movie that’s filled with a lot of exciting action scene, interesting enough characters with enough one-liner jokes to keep thing interesting. I think that it did the Jumanji franchise justice and could easily be a cult hit for young kids to reference much later on in the future. For the most part I liked the movie enough that I would recommend it to my close friends and family. Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are hilarious as usual together and surprisingly their humor fits in well with both Jack Black and Karen Gillan. I give this movie a solid B.

 

 

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