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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Image Credit: Sony Pictures

Simon Dillon, 22nd Jan 2018
Tags: Life Review Action Adventure Comedy Film

Today I finally caught up with 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle', which has been a surprise hit. What’s even more surprising is that it is actually a thoroughly entertaining comedy adventure, with charm, wit and even a smidgeon of satire to spare. Yes, it’s absolutely ridiculous, but it’s probably impossible not to emerge from the cinema with a big grin on your face.

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A much belated sequel, this one begins where the original left off, with the Jumanji board game being found on a beach by a teenager who promptly dismisses is, muttering “Who plays board games these days?” Apparently the game hears him and adapts accordingly, because next time he opens the case he discovers it has become a video game, which he is then sucked into. Fast forward two decades, and a group of teenagers in school detention find the old video game, and are likewise sucked into it.

Here the film plays it’s ace. Main protagonist Spencer (Alex Wolff) is a nerdy, awkward boy who suddenly finds himself in the body of Dwayne Johnson, playing his video game avatar. His best friend Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), a strong, sporty guy, finds himself in the much smaller, much weaker body of Kevin Hart. Outsider Martha (Morgan Turner) finds herself in the body of Karen Gillan, prompting amusing comments about how her crop top is ridiculous and impractical attire for the jungle they find themselves in. And most awkwardly of all, narcissist mean girl Bethany (Madison Iseman) finds herself in the body of… Jack Black.

Girl running through field
Image Credit: tenor

Director Jake Kasdan helms solidly, making the most of the witty and surprisingly satirical screenplay. I particularly enjoyed the swipes taken at the ghastly superficiality of social media, selfies and so on. Each character has an amusing and satisfying arc throughout the ensuing adventure of chases, traps, deadly animals, dark villains and knowingly nonsensical video game plotting. But the greatest joy is, surely, seeing Dwayne Johnson send himself up so hilariously, with a nerdy teenage boy inhabiting his ludicrous physique.

I was completely indifferent to the original Jumanji from 1996, but this one is a different matter entirely.

I was completely indifferent to the original 'Jumanji' from 1996, but this one is a different matter entirely. Exciting, funny and breathtakingly silly, 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle' is hardly groundbreaking cinema, but it is a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours with brain in neutral.

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