1995’s Jumanji is one of my favorite movies of all time. So, naturally, I was excited AND worried about the new film. Excited because I love the source material, but obviously worried that it would be bad. There was no more Robin Williams, so how could it even be comparable? I was also skeptical after finding out it was going to revolve around a video game rather than a board game. But the fact that it’s such a different concept actually prevents us from making any unfair comparisons. Luckily, nothing about this new installment feels forced or unnecessary.
In the film, four very different high school students wind up in detention. They’re forced to clean up a storage room, where they find an old video game system and begin playing the game inside, Jumanji. Seconds after selecting their avatars, they get transported into the game, becoming the adult avatars they’ve chosen.
The writers make it so the non-gaming teenagers have the weakest avatars in the game, brilliantly mimicking the frustrations of actual non-gamers all over the world.
It’s a mix of comedy and intensity, with the former being the priority. Though, the humor never undermines the action or insults the other things the story is trying to accomplish.
Many of the jokes stem from Jack Black’s character being played by a stuck-up teenage girl. So, everything he says is appropriate to that. Black is so good that you actually feel like there is a girl underneath it all.
In fact, most of the actors do a good job at this. Dwayne Johnson’s character has a timid nerdy boy inside. And Kevin Hart’s diminutive avatar is controlled by a football jock.
Jumanji is Hart and Johnson’s funniest film, individually and together. Usually movies rely on Hart to be the main focus and source of the humor, but there are other characters here to distract you from him, so when he pipes in it doesn’t feel like overkill. And seeing Johnson take on a different persona is refreshing.
This Jumanji sequel is a comedy more than anything else, and is very fresh compared to some of its contemporaries. It doesn’t break any new ground within its genre, but also never tries to become more than it actually is. Even if it’s not the perfect movie, it’s amazing entertainment.