Quick Hit: The reboot/remake I was worried about is actually pretty good.
I was among the loudest detractors when I heard that this was going to be a movie. Even when the director cast current comedy duo Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson, I was still worried, and had no problem prognosticating a bomb at the box office. I am nothing but humbled by this experience, as Jumanji not only cleaned the clock at the US box office, but also ended up being pretty entertaining.
I think what was most impressive about the film was the way it retained the spirit of the original movie while not really invoking it at all outside the opening minutes. The main gist here is that the game has migrated to a video game, and eventually a young group of teenagers get sucked in to the game. This is a bit of a diversion from the first one, when the game comes to them, but is in line with what happens to Alan Parrish in the first movie. It’s a nice updating of the story while still sticking to the spirit of what made the first one from.
It also gives the writers (Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers) a lot more to play with. A lot of the humor in WTTJ is derived from gaming culture, and the different aspects of playing a video game. From cut scenes, to characters that repeat themselves, and even character names, the writers truly have an affinity for the material, and that love shows throughout. The game is lovingly designed, right down to the carnivorous hippos. A lot of this humor, like Dr. Bravenstone’s trademark smolder, couldn’t have been given to a more talented cast.
The cast, which includes the aforementioned Johnson and Hart, also includes Karen Gillian and Jack Black. Every single one of these actors knocks it out. I was a little concerned, because I thought maybe Black would give a little too much. But damned if he doesn’t make the transition to a teenage girl not only believable, but also funny and even heartwarming! Each of the characters arcs are a bit cliché, which is honestly the only reason I’m detracting this movie from “A” status – but these actors all know exactly what they have to do to be funny. I loved the humor, from the pee scene to the flirting scene, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
So, outside of a convincing bad guy and some more driven characters, the new Jumanji movie is an entertaining flick full of laughs, heart, and yes, even a love story or two. I’m not saying it’s a work of cinematic art, but I am saying that I’m going to give it a “B+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"