The 2017 Jumanji sequel surprises and delights with great one-liners, over-the-top-action, and an overall fun time in the theater for the whole family.
I must admit that upon hearing of a sequel to the 1995 Jumanji film with Robin Williams, I was mortified as were many fans and rightfully so. Hollywood has rebooted, reimagined, and repackaged so many classics over recent years that the idea of doing more with this series and including Jack Black and Kevin Hart seemed scary. But I am happy to say that I was so pleasantly surprised by the lighthearted nature of the film, the incredible comedic timing from both Black and Hart, and the endearing lovable presence of Johnson and Gillan that this may have been one of the best times I have had in the theater in several months.
Without giving too much a way, it should be noted that this is a sequel and there are tie-ins to the 1995 prequel in a handful of fun ways. But even so, Welcome to the Jungle recognizes is predecessor for what it was, respects that it paved the way for an opportunity that could be continued for a new generation of moviegoers, and seizes it and delivers one heck of a good time in the cinema.
After the events of 1995, a modern version of Jumanji manifests itself within the original board game in the form of a videogame cartridge from the 90s. This game is then picked up by four rather troubled youths who are tossed into the world of Jumanji with ties to videogames of the era both modern and retro.
Among the four players are a very diverse cast of young adults who are morphed into their playable avatars consisting of the always enjoyable Johnson, a hard-hitting action hero with a heart of gold and a soul of pure bravery. His companion takes the form of Kevin Hart’s character, a whiny zoologist and bag handler that delivers some of the most laugh-out loud moments, and there are many, throughout the whole movie. Perhaps the only thing funnier than Hart’s whiny quips and bickering, is Jack Black’s cartographer character whose persona is that of an Instagram-centric high school beauty with a self-absorbed self-centered mentality. Jack Black’s performance as a high school girl is one of the most humorous performances he has ever given, and he does it so well that you can bet you will be laughing every time his character pops on-screen. And then there is Karen Gillan’s Ruby Roundhouse character, a tough as nails female heroine with the majority of the character development and least amount of clothes.
The plot centers on these four would-be heroes being tasked to save the jungle, and themselves, from certain doom by taking on a deadly foe who has taken control of the jungle and all its wildlife inhabitants. With time running out, the group must set aside their differences, put their in-game skills to the test, and save Jumanji and selves before the clock runs out. You know, that old trope.
There really isn’t anything to dislike about Jumanji: WttJ, except the mere idea of a Jumanji sequel with no context. The trailers initially turned me off with the assumption that all the best parts were shown in said trailers, but that could not be further from the truth. There is action, romance, more humor, and more entertainment here than I ever expected and it was such a pleasant surprise that I can admit that I will be seeing this movie at least once more in the theaters.
If you have any reserves, or any doubts about Welcome to the Jungle, I encourage you to place them and your expectations aside and just go see it. It is fun for the whole family and quite friendly for nearly all ages (minus a few gender-specific jokes, that is).
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, and Bobby Cannavale.