By The Collectress
I will do my best to keep this review spoiler-free. All potential spoilers will be marked with **.
This past weekend, after a particularly long and grueling week, the Mutineer and I had the opportunity to see Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle at an advanced screening for Amazon Prime members. We chanted “Jumanji, Jumanji, Jumanji” all the way to the theater, and it turns out that watching Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black run screaming through the jungle is an instant cure to a bad day. The film is a sequel to Jumanji (1995), and it embodies its predecessor’s light-hearted comedic action-packed tone.
If you’re in the millennial generation, you’ll recognize this film as welcome journey back to your childhood.
The film’s premise is not so dissimilar from the original, except, this time Jumanji is a video game and the children go into the game, rather than the other way around. **The film opens up on a teenage boy in 1996 playing the game and disappearing, setting the wheels in motion for the four “current” teens to find the missing player, much like Jumanji‘s Alan Parrish, played by the late Robin Williams. Once the four teens are sucked into the game, they become their avatars–so the quiet, nerdy Spencer becomes the tall and dashing Dr. Bravestone (The Rock), the bookish Martha becomes Ruby Roundhouse, Killer of Men (Karen Gillan), the jock Fridge becomes the sidekick (Kevin Hart), and the high school queen bee becomes the middle-aged cartographer (Jack Black). Together they have to band together to beat the game and make it home by completing all the levels.
The strength of this movie isn’t in the script–although there are some clever twists to the plot–or in the technical effects, but in the casting. The chemistry between the actors is palpable, and the jokes land effortlessly. Kevin Hart and Jack Black in particular benefit from this dynamic, as they easily slide from the ridiculous–Jack Black being eaten by a hippo, for example–to the borderline angsty as the characters realize that they only have 3 lives in the game. Once they hit the end of their 3rd life…game over.
To enjoy this film, it’s best not to be taken too seriously. After all, when one character’s head explodes because of pound cake, you know it’s not going to be an emotional heavy-hitter. Don’t expect an Oscar nomination here–the film relies entirely too much on physical comedy for that–but do expect a good time. The cast shines in the light-hearted humor, and the film is an enjoyable two hours of comedy, video game gimmicks, and the Rock punching people.
Watch if you want a good time.
Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle opens in US cinemas on December 20.