Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
3 Palm Trees out of 4
by Manuel Reynoso
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a 2017 American action adventure comedy film directed by Jake Kasdan and written by Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg, and Jeff Pinkner, from a story by McKenna. Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan.
When four teenagers stumble upon the video game, Jumanji, they find themselves transported into a video game world. Where their only chance of survival is to complete the game before they run out of lives.
Jumanji (1995) was a film I forgot I loved. It was the kind of family fun adventure movie that you saw in your youth, that just sticks with you as good wholesome fun. So when the trailer for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle hit, the internet was pretty up in arms against its release. Admittedly I even found myself questioning the idea of a sequel to Jumanji. While a little late to the party, I was genuinely surprised how not awful the film actually was.
Funny enough, re-watching the original Jumanji really dates it hard in the 90s, while Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is such a product of millennial/generation z pop culture. So as a sequel, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is really the same campy fun that we grew up with. It’s a fun, action-filled romp that does the source material justice. Personally, that’s all I really needed the film to be in order to enjoy it.
All the big action set pieces of the film were a fun watch, and did use some surprisingly effective practical effects. While some of the cgi (computer generated imagery)could be better, it felt fitting with the whole trapped in a game type theme. The whole film was just well shot and generally very beautiful to look at in regards to the scenery, but the one thing that really stood out as exceptional was the acting of the cast. Jack Black and Kevin Hart absolutely carry the film the entire time. Jack Black playing as a teenage girl in a middle aged man’s body killed me. Without the performance by those two, I don’t think the movie would be nearly as well received. The Rock and Karen Gillan were fine, but absolutely overshadowed by the rest of the cast.
It’s not all praise, plenty of jokes fall flat throughout the film. Not enough to make it unbearable, but there are some real bad stinkers being thrown out there. One gripe that I have difficulty contextualizing is the randomness of some of the story beats. At times, entire plot points felt so forced and out of left field that I found it difficult to care what was going on. It’s difficult to explain, but seeing no build up for certain important events make any emotional investment for me nonexistent. I didn’t think this would be a problem, but seeing this occur again and again really left a sour taste in my mouth. To me it just didn’t come off well written.
Gripes aside, I really feel like I had more fun with this than I ever would have thought possible. I want to say this can be a great family film but there are some raunchy jokes that may skirt the lines of being acceptable for some families with younger children, especially due to the use of profanity. Everyone else that grew up with Jumanji still fondly in their memories can really get a kick out of this. It’s funny, action packed, and just an all-around good time. Rated PG-13 1h59m