Jumanji is jam packed with laughs and adventure.
It put a smile on my face to see the trailer for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. I am a fan of the book, and I saw the original in the theater, so I was definitely in for this follow up. It did not disappoint. I was very impressed with how well done this was. The board game that got tossed into a river by Alan Parrish (played by the late Robin Williams in 1995’s Jumanji) washes up on a beach. A man finds it and brings the game home to his teenage son, who is more interested in video games. Jumanji magically turns into that, and there is where the adventure begins! So you are left wondering what happened to the son, although you probably figured it out if you’ve watched the original, and then we meet the movie’s main characters. Clichéd, sure, but it’s okay because those clichés make for some hilarious moments later in the film. There’s Spencer (the nerd who is scared of everything), Fridge (the jock who doesn’t get good grades), Bethany (the popular girl who is obsessed with social media), and Martha (the introvert who defies “the system”). During a school day, all four end up in detention for various reasons, so the principal makes them clean out the school’s basement. Fridge finds the game console with Jumanji in it, so him and Spencer hook the game up and tell the girls to come play. They all get sucked into the game, and become the characters they selected. A video game character tells them that their mission is to save Jumanji from the evil Russel Van Pelt, played by Bobby Cannavale (portrayed by Jonathan Hyde in the original), who is intent on keeping the Jaguar’s Eye for himself, which curses the jungle when it’s not kept in its rightful spot on top of a mountain. The teens find out that they have attributes related to their character, and that they have the classic “3 lives”. The video game aspect of this movie was hilarious. As a gamer who grew up with Nintendo and Sega Genesis, I appreciated the 3 lives, the power ups, and the increased difficulty as they progress through the jungle. There were quite a few laugh out loud moments, including a character death at the beginning of the game. Don’t worry….still two lives left. So remember those clichés? They contrasted the game characters’ clichés, and the dynamics were a lot of fun. Spencer’s game character is played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, so we get to see a brooding adventurer with the personality of a scared teen who doesn’t like bugs. Fridge’s game character is played by Kevin Hart, who isn’t anything like a football jock, and his weaknesses are funny. Not the typical weaknesses of an athlete. Martha’s game character is played by Karen Gillan, so it takes Martha a while to embrace how hardcore her character is. There is a very funny scene involving her trying to flirt. Funny story about that scene…..It made me realize Karen Gillan plays “Nebula” in Guardians of the Galaxy. I hadn’t seen Karen without the Nebula makeup, but during that flirting scene in Jumanji, she inflects her voice the same way she does for Nebula. It didn’t hit me at first, although I knew I heard that voice before. I said “heeyyyyyyy that’s Nebula” by the time the film was over. When she questions her getup, I laughed and immediately thought of Blaze from Streets of Rage. A woman fighting street thugs in a mini skirt…..Yea, what? The funniest character, imo of course, was Jack Black’s Sheldon Oberson. Bethany picked that character because she thought it was a woman (the character select screen said “Shelly Oberson”), and when she finds out her character is a man, I was cracking up. Jack Black does a good job playing a man that speaks like and has the personality traits of a teenage girl. Who do you think “taught” Martha how to flirt? HA! Overall, this was a fun adventure flick. The jokes worked, the cast was great, and the special effects were on point. I am surprised to see this movie’s box office total. Worldwide, it almost hit 1 billion! I have it on dvd, and I can still go to two theaters in Huntsville and watch it. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle gets the Migs stamp of approval. If you don’t have a good time watching this…you deserve to be stuck in Jumanji!