Anticipating what I assumed to be a distasteful soft reboot of a fun, lighthearted adventure film, I expected the worst from Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. However, to my pleasant surprise (and curious confusion), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle shares little resemblance to its supposed source material. Instead of a murderous board game that forces players to partake in increasingly difficult tasks, this involves the hip millennial version of the whole thing.
Four clichéd high school students are sucked into a video game while in detention. Once inside the video game, each high schooler takes on a completely different persona, kind of like an in-game avatar. These avatars are played by Jack Black, Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan, who all go off on a vague MacGuffin plot to stop a one-dimensional bad guy. Basically, get the thing, put it in the thing, so it will do the thing.
Jumanji is about as ridiculous and uninspired as you can possibly get, and thankfully the film knows that, making the absolute best of its lame and outrageous premise.
It’s obvious the cast is having a lot of fun shooting Jumanji, and that genuine enthusiasm easily rubs off on the audience. The journey these characters embark on and the lessons they learn along the way was where I derived most of my enjoyment.
Another big part of the film aside from the characters is the humor, which in my opinion was a tad overplayed. Some jokes work very well at first and get a good laugh, only to be drawn out for too long until they become tiresome and annoying. Other scenes intended to be humorous were incredibly childish and tonally inconsistent, leading me to assume that Jumanji had no clear audience it wanted to appeal to.
Jumanji’s strongest suit wasn’t in its humor, but in the genuine moments shared between the protagonists, who were so goofy and animated that I couldn’t help but join in on the fun. The cheesy and poorly written aspects of Jumanji all teeter precariously on “so bad it’s good”. Altogether, I think there is more amusement to be had in Jumanji’s faults than boredom or irritation.
The Verdict: C+