Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is directed by Jake Kasdan and it is the direct sequel to 1995’s Jumanji starring the late Robin Williams. The movie follows four teenagers who all get into detention, there they find an old game with the name Jumanji which sucks them into it forcing them to finish the game or die. Now these four teens are gonna learn some useful skills, get to know each other and embark on a great adventure. The movie stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Nick Jonas as well as Alex Wolff, Madison Iseman, Ser’Darius Blain and Morgan Turner as the real-life counterparts.
When it comes to my relationship with this franchise, I have to say, it’s weird. I did not grow up with original movie and I have yet to see it but weirdly enough I remember seeing Zathura as a kid and enjoying it, at least I think I do, it was so long ago. When this movie came out I was too busy thinking about Star Wars: The Last Jedi that I did not even bother going to see this movie which is a big shame now that I’m thinking about it. I watched it for the first time this year on Janurary. My family and I were looking for a movie to watch and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle happened to be on there and I remember a lot of people especially families hyping up this movie and saying how incredibly fun it was and so we decided to watch it. Looking back on that moment now, I can honestly say it’s one of the funniest and most memorable movie nights I’ve had in a long time.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a pure family entertainment, popcorn in one hand, soda on the other type of blockbuster which feels like lightning in a bottle. Honestly, you reading this review right now, did you think this movie would be as good as it is based on the trailers? No, neither did I, but somehow this movie works. It isn’t a perfect movie by any means but it is so damn entertaining and hilarious that it’s impossible not to have a great time watching it. Admittedly the scenes outside of the game are a mixed bag. On one hand the teen actors did a great job introducing their characters so that later on we know who is who and why the humor lands so well but on the other hand the characters and their storylines are incredibly cliched. You have the goody-two shoes who is allergic to everything and does other people’s homework, the pretty basic girl, the jock and the girl who prefers studying than sports. That’s really my only flaw with this movie but they spend so little time outside of the game that it feels like a nitpick. Actually it’s the characters’ arcs which really defeat that nitpick because essentially this is The Breakfast Club meets Jumanji.
This movie would be nowhere near as successful as it is if it weren’t for the pitch perfect casting. One of the most memorable casts in a comedy in recent memory. I can’t imagine anyone else in these roles. Dwayne Johnson playing Spencer, a scrawny guy who turns into Dwayne Johnson and discovering his strong physique and strengths makes for a ton of hilarious jokes, Kevin Hart is Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan gets a chance to shine outside of Nebula in a great role which shows her comedic skills a lot. That being said the star of this movie is Jack Black as a phone-addicted teenage girl. You would think all of these jokes would get old but they never do. Johnson’s strength is played with many times at the expense of Hart’s character which was hilarious to see, it was pure slapstick comedy at it’s finest. Gillan gets a funny yet badass action scene near the end and Black’s modern teenage tropes get used in a very clever way for example there’s a scene where they have to do a staring contest with a snake (don’t ask) and she incorporates her talent of being able to keep her eyes open for selfies for a long time to do this. Along with that, the movie has an incredibly hilarious script which is really benefited by the casting.
Overall Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is one of the most entertaining family movies you’ll ever see. It’s got heart, tons of humour and exciting action. It’s the perfect movie to shut your brain off for two hours and just enjoy a wacky adventure. While the movie has a lot of impressive sets and visuals, the true special effect of this movie is the irreplaceable cast who all bring their A-game by using their comedic skills and mostly playing against their usual type of character. This movie what it is and I praise it for that reason, it’s a consistently entertaining movie which I will gladly rewatch many more times.