We’re Shocked By How Much We Enjoyed Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Alright, let’s just get this out of the way right now: Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle is in no way, shape, or form close to even competing with the original Jumanji. However, this was still a great film and it was leaps and bounds better than I thought it was going to be initially. The Jumanji title is so beloved due to it’s proper balance of drama, humor, and action which in is no small part due to the late great Robin Williams. When the film was first announced and I saw the line up, I cringed because it was obvious that Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was going to be one huge goof with Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan at the helm.
It seems that the new trend is to reboot classic old films with modern actors in what feels like a tacky cash grab. So imagine my surprise when I sat down with the lowest expectations and came out of the film with the biggest grin!
Let’s get into the review!
The combination of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart always makes for a great time as they have partnered up in comedies time and again as the tough warrior and the loud mouthed friend. Not to mention Jack Black is such an iconic comedian who goes above and beyond to play a very vain, popular high school girl while in the body of a cartographer. And of course, the ever beautiful Karen Gillian knows how to both be attractive and humorous due to her days of being Amelia Pond from Doctor Who.
The plot of Welcome to the Jungle is about a group of very different teenagers who find themselves in detention. You have Spencer, the nerd, Bethany, the popular girl, Martha, the judgemental one, and Fridge, the jock. While there they find an old gaming system riddled with dust and cob webs. A game cartridge is found already inserted into the machine and on it reads “Jumanji”. One by one they each grab a controller and choose their character. They come to find that they have been thrown into the video game as the character they chose, have only three lives and must beat the game in order to return to their world.
Their character choices are fun because every person accidentally picked a character who polar opposite personalities than their own. The popular girl who is vain and self centered becomes an overweight male cartographer while the nerd becomes a strikingly handsome adventurer.
Every character has their own shining moment but a majority of the best jokes came from Jack Black’s performance. Even the thought of Jack Black pretending to be a popular high school girl is incredible but to watch him freak out about peeing, flirting with male characters, and teaching Martha how to be sexy just stole the show.
The film never took itself too seriously and because of that, your expectations were lowered. So every time they did have an impressive scene, it was a pleasant surprise.
To be honest, the worst parts of this film are whenever the main cast are not on screen. The intro and outro are pretty cringy as they highlight the high schoolers. Every attempt the film makes at getting the viewer to care about their situation completely misses the mark due to poor acting and the overuse of jock/popular girl/outcast/nerd tropes.
The villain, Van pelt played by Bobby Cannavale, was also pretty lackluster. Granted, as an actor he did a fine job but the aesthetics of his super natural powers had little to no effect to make him fearsome. Every time he came on screen for the cliche “I will not lose to the likes of you” or “You have failed me for the last time” it was a bit eye roll worthy.
The other question I have is who the heck is making these games?! I can understand making a board game because it is wood and marble and there is probably only a single copy. But when I saw that Jumanji had been made into a video game I was baffled. Who took the time to code an entire game while also implanting a curse in it? Is there a cult of Jumanji out there that keeps making Jumanji products to keep cursing people? Or does the curse shift it’s form to whatever new media is popular in that generation?
Probably overthinking it, but still!
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a fun film! The quality of it is much higher than I initially thought and same goes with the jokes. I laughed hard at this film and wanted so much more from the cast. While this does not come close as being iconic like it’s predecessor, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle still hold’s it’s own and will no doubt be loved by many! I recommend this film to anyone looking for a good laugh without any high expectations from the plot or villain.