Film Review: 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle'

Film Review: 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle'

IT'S A SEQUEL NOT A RE-MAKE. Just in case you were wondering.
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4.5/5 Stars

First things first, there are spoilers in this review so if you were hoping for spoiler-free you’ve come to the wrong review. If you have not seen the film yet proceed with caution as I reveal many things not already known from the first film. SO TURN BACK NOW IF YOU DON'T WANT ANY SPOILERS. GOODBYE NON-SPOILERY PEOPLE.

Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle seemed to be pitched as a remake of the original film Jumanji starring Robin Williams. As a huge, Robin Williams fan, I was originally very disappointed they were remaking it without the fantastic actor Robin Williams was.

However, the beginning of the movie is basically an introduction to the film and starts out similarly to how the original Jumanji did, except, this time, it’s as if it picked off where the last one left off. The first original film ends with Sarah and Alan throwing the game in a river, sharing a kiss, and then we see the board game partially buried in the sand with its drums beating as people walk past it. As a result of this, the film is actually a sequel and not a re-make as the previews make you think.

The film starts out in 1996 with a dad finding the board game Jumanji on the beach while jogging. This, we know, cannot be good as if you’ve seen the first movie you know whoever plays the game has to finish it as the game comes to life around you and you have the possibility of being trapped in the game if you land on a blank space. If this happens, the other person or people playing need to roll a five or an eight on the dice in order to get you out of the Jumanji jungle.

This is exactly what happens to Alan Parrish in the original film Jumanji and he is sucked into the game until the girl he plays with or someone else finishes the game and rolls a 5 or 8. As the story continues in Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle the dad brings the game to his son. His son discovers it to be a board game and does not want to play it as he plays video games and no longer plays board games. However, the game transforms overnight into a video game and he decides to play it and as a result, is sucked into the game.

Fast forward to 20 years later, and our four main characters are introduced to us. The first main character introduced to is a video game nerd named Spencer who, as we are introduced to him, is playing a video game before he goes to finish a paper we find out is for our next main character named Fridge. We are introduced to Fridge as he leaves for school and finds out he is close to not passing some of his classes and will be kicked off the football team if he doesn’t pass. These two meet up as we learn that Spencer has been doing Fridge’s homework.

As these two meet, a young cheerleader girl pulls up and gives Fridge a ride to school. After Fridge leaves Spencer is left alone only to turn around and find Old Man Vreeke who lives in what they have deemed “Freak House” as he has not moved since his son went missing twenty years ago. As Spencer has a frightening conversation with Old Man Vreeke, a car driving by notices and the teenager in this car, Bethany, is our third main character.

We aren’t introduced to our fourth main character until they are all in gym class, and our fourth main character Martha is introduced to us. These four are thrust together in detention where they discover an old video game and video game console with Jumanji as the game and we start our journey with them, in their chosen avatar form, from there. However, before we actually start we learn that one of the avatars does not work because it is already taken.The avatar that is taken was taken by Alex Vreeke twenty years ago thus meaning he’s been stuck in Jumanji for twenty years waiting for someone to play and help.

I really enjoyed this film. It takes you on a hilarious wild rollercoaster ride as we are re-introduced to our main characters as their avatars and follow them throughout the film. I found it hilarious that the adult actors chosen for each character each had to somewhat act like teenagers and learn more about their characters before stepping into this role like any other role they have had.

We have The Rock as Spencer, Kevin Hart as Fridge, Jack Black as Bethany, Nick Jonas as Alex and Karen Gillan as Martha. The only unknown actor in this to most people would be Karen Gillan as the guys are all well known established actors in their careers. Despite this, my whole theater seemed to enjoy this film and you could hear the roar of laughter as the film provided a lot of comic relief.

The two characters that really made this film as enjoyable as it was were Jack Black as Bethany and Kevin Hart as fridge. There were a lot of dick jokes thrown in as Jack Black plays, as his character put it, “ An overweight middle-aged man” only with a teenage girl mindset. Jack Black makes the most jokes about being a girl and having a penis as, obviously, she is not used to it and has to learn from the boys how to use it to pee which was one of the most hilarious scenes in the whole film.

We also have Jack Black going over the top to pretend he’s a teenage girl and he honestly does a spot on impressions except he does go a little over the top hence the reason why I gave the film 4.5 stars and not the full five. Kevin Hart as Fridge also makes this the hilarious family movie this is as Kevin Hart basically plays himself in this film and overreacts to everything that comes his way. As a backstory, Fridge in the real world is about 6’3” or so and his avatar character, played by Kevin Hart, is 5’4”.

As a result, his first joke he makes is about height and everyone of all sizes was able to laugh at it. The Rock as Spencer is funny at times but was definitely more of the main source of information we got on how the game progressed and how they had to play the game.

I’m curious to know if he knew what an NPC was before this film because I definitely did not but it was interesting to be able to take some gamer lingo from the film. For those who don’t know, an NPC is a non-player character who just helps the players of the game progress on their journey through the game.

Karen Gillan pulled off a stellar performance of a high school nerdy girl who just wants to get into college and has no clue, as I like to call it, how to boy. She has no idea how to talk to boys, how to flirt, or how to seduce without her avatar’s strength, dance fighting.

We even get a scene where Jack Black as Bethany gives her lessons on how to flirt with guys so that the other characters can find another entrance to a transportation shed in the third level of the game. It’s hilarious to watch as she has to flirt with the guys guarding the front entrance to distract their attention from her fellow players’ getting into the shed. She ends up forgetting everything she did with Bethany but does end up fighting them dance music on to help her fight.

The only thing I found interesting about Nick Jonas’ character was the fact that his character had a strength of being able to make Margaritas which we find out when he meets the rest of our main characters and takes them to his shed. At the sehd we learn that the shed did not belong to him first but to an Alan Parrish.

This is the only easter egg we have in the film to even hint at the first film as anyone who watches the first film knows Alan Parrish was the original kid to play Jumanji and make all hell break loose while playing with his “almost” girlfriend at the time. As a Robin Williams fan I found it heartwarming to know they placed a double tribute into one. They placed a tribute to Robin Williams as he portrays adult Alan in the original film, and they placed a tribute to the original film showing that they weren’t re-making it they were just inspired by it.

Overall I really enjoyed this movie, so much that I’ve seen it twice already, but highly encourage you to watch the original film before going or taking your children to this film. (It is not required to see the first one but as the original is such a classic it is definitely a must watch. SO GO WATCH IT FIRST PLEASE AND THANK YOU.)

Cover Image Credit: youtube

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