“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is Great for All Audiences

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Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Dwayne Johnson in “Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle.”

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle 2017 PG-13


It’s been 22 years since the late Robin Williams brought us the cinematic cult favorite Jumanji.  His portrayal of Alan Parrish was iconic and made all kids wonder what would happen if they got sucked up into their video games.  The jungle drums are beating again ready to cause havoc for all new players in this installment: Jumanji, Welcome to the Jungle.

The year is 1996 and the Jumanji board game has been found by another unsuspecting teenager, Alex Vreeke (Nick Jonas).  The orginal Jumanji board game was found on a beach by Alex’s father and forgotten about.  The board game then morphs into a “newer” classic Nintendo type video game.  Cue the beating drums.  Alex plugs into the game, chooses his character (Seaplane McDonough) and is never seen or heard from again.

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Fast Forward to 2016.  A group of four teenagers have been sent to detention and are tasked with cleaning out the school basement.  Spenser Gilpin (Alex Wolff), “Fridge” Johnson (Ser’Darius Blain), Martha Kaply (Morgan Turner), and Bethany Walker (Madison Iseman) can’t be any different.  Spenser is the nerd, “Fridge” is the jock, Martha is the wallflower, and Bethany is the popular girl.  In true “Breakfast Club” fashion all four are thrust into a team endeavor to get the basement cleaned by the end of the day.

Cue the beating drums again.  They come across an old video game called “Jumanji”.  They all decide to choose their avatars and play the game.  They are immediately whisked away into the Jungle World of Jumanji.  However, there is one catch.  They are now the physical representation of the avatar’s they chose.

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“Fridge” is now Franklin “Moose” Finbar.  A short, smart, weapons specialist played by Kevin Hart.  Spenser is Dr. Smolder Bravestone.  A big, brave, archaeologist explorer played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  Martha has been transformed into Ruby Roundhouse, a beautiful, commando martial artist, and dance fighter played by Karen Gillan.  Last but not least there is Bethany.  She has been transformed into Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon.  A male cryptographer, archaeologist, and paleontologist played by Jack Black.

Our foursome are burdened with getting a stone across the Jumanji jungle and into a Jaguar’s eye before they are stopped by the evil Russell Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale).  They all have three lives each to do so.  They will all have to work as a team and sacrifice themselves in order to escape this Jumanji jungle reality and win the game.

The real comedy in this movie was the interactions of “The Rock”, Kevin Hart and the others getting used to their new bodies.  Watching them come to grips with being big, or small, or smart, or a man was very funny and a joy to watch.   The foursome come to respect each other for who they are and the real life abilities they possess.

I like the fact that it is the flip flop version of the original film.  Welcome to the Jungle drops the characters into the Jumanji world, rather than the Jumanji jungle coming into our reality.  There is even a nice tribute to Robin Williams from the first film when our foursome find Alex in Alan Parrish’s jungle home.  We get to see what Alan had to deal with before finally making his way home.

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I thought this movie was very funny and entertaining.  It is great for all audiences and will not disappoint.  I will give it a 3 out of 4 stars.  This will not be the last Jumanji movie. I think we will be hearing those jungle drums beating again in the near future, tormenting another crew of players.  At least I hope so.

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