(Jumanji picture from vanyaland.com)
During the winter break, my family and I watched Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. None of us have ever read the book or watched the original movie so we didn’t know what Jumanji was about. The only reason we decided to see it was because Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), Kevin Hart, and Jack Black were in it.
Jumanji is about four high schoolers that are trapped inside a video game and have to complete it to return to the outside world. They found this game while cleaning their school’s basement during detention. While Spencer and Martha take out the staples of newspapers and Bethany looks at her phone, Fridge finds a game console and a Jumanji game card. Choosing to play video games rather than taking out staples, Spencer (a teenage Dwayne Johnson) selects Dr. Smolder Bravestone, Fridge (teenage Kevin Hart) selects Moose Finbar, Bethany (teenage Jack Black) selects Professor Shelly Oberon, and Martha selects Ruby Roundhouse.
Upon selection of the characters, they are all transported into the game. However, after being transported into the game, each person finds themselves physically transformed. Spencer, who was a scrawny nerd, is now big and buff with the most physical advantages and no weaknesses. He possesses speed, strength, and stamina. Fridge, who was a buff and strong football player, is now small and slow. His weaknesses are a lack of strength, not being able to run fast, and cake. He is a zoologist and a weapons valet, who carries a backpack. Bethany, a pretty and popular girl who is addicted to social media, is now an overweight middle-aged man whose strength is cartography. Unfortunately, because she is now an overweight man, she lacks endurance. Martha, the nerdy but defiant redhead, is now a master of mixed martial arts and dance fighting. Her weakness is poison.
Spencer and his friends learn from a NPC (Non Player Character, describing those who are permanent characters in the video game) that Jumanji had been cursed by Van Pelt, a greedy and ambitious villain. In his greed, Van Pelt stole the emerald eye of the panther, a mountainous statue carved from stone overlooking all of Jumanji, which would enable him to control wildlife, but inadvertently causing Jumanji to be cursed. In order for the four teenagers to exit the video game, they must return the eye of the panther to its rightful place and say the word “Jumanji” in order to lift the curse. The challenge is that each player only has three lives and by the end of the movie, all ultimately end up using two lives.
After a chase scene by men driving mortocycles with guns and missile launchers, they regroup and head to where they think the bazaar is to complete their next task. Once they arrive, they look around to find the missing piece of the map. A NPC brings them to the place where the last piece of the map is located. In the middle of the room is a closed basket. They open it and learn that a Black Mamba snake is in there, guarding the last piece of the map. Thinking it’s a staring contest, Bethany attempts to stare it down which backfires and almost kills Martha. Fridge defangs the snake and they find the last piece of the map which is a stone elephant and an inscription indicating to climb when an elephant is seen. After they exit the room, they are confronted by Van Pelt’s soldiers who take a beating by the hands of Spencer who, unfortunately for the soldiers, likes to play Street Fighter.
They then meet Alex, a person who was sucked into the game decades before them who helps them escape and get to his secure home. After a few too many margaritas for Fridge and convincing Alex to help them, they make it to the next level where they have to fly to a checkpoint. All of them almost die when something breaks in their helicopter. Luckily, Spencer fixes it and then they begin to head to the checkpoint until Fridge says he thinks he dropped the eye. After circling back to retrieve the eye, Fridge loses one of his 3 lives. They are able to make it to the checkpoint and then find the path to the Panther. They see an elephant statue and think that Spencer needs to climb. Instead, he loses a life when falling out of a tree and getting mauled by a jaguar. Not trying to repeat the mistake, Fridge comes up with a plan to get to the panther using a football strategy.
After another awesome fight scene, Spencer places the eye back into the statue and yells “Jumanji!” He, Bethany, Fridge, and Martha end up back in their world and crush Jumanji and the console.
I liked how the actors portrayed their characters (especially Jack Black), the funny dialogue, and the fight scenes. Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black’s reactions to their transformations were all hilarious when they landed in Jumanji. Dwayne Johnson (nerdy Spencer) poking his huge muscles in awe and saying “Where’s my hair?” Kevin Hart (big and strong Fridge) patting himself saying “Where’s the rest of me?!” Jack Black (self-absorbed girl, Bethany), screaming, “No! I’m an overweight middle aged man.” I think that Jack Black was the best at playing the character of a sixteen year old girl – with the hair flips and acting like a valley girl. My dad thought that Jack Black played the role of a sixteen year old girl a little too well.
A favorite scene is when Kevin Hart’s character (Moose Finbar) accidentally eats poundcake and explodes. It is funny and unexpected when you first watch it.
Kevin Hart: What is this?
Food Vendor: Poundcake.
Ruby Roundhouse: Cake?! Isn’t that your weakness?
Kevin Hart: Is something happening to me? Why am I shaking?
Ruby Roundhouse: (Shakes head)
Kevin Hart: Am I still Black?
Ruby Roundhouse: Yes.
Kevin Hart: Ok, we’re fine, everything’s fine, it’s all good. (BOOM – he blows up)
The movie was well presented and I don’t believe any changes were needed to improve it.
Similar to Thor: Ragnarok, I recommend seeing Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle if you can still catch it in theaters.