‘Jumanji’ Review: The Johnson-Hart tandem wins again

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is the hilarious sequel to the original Jumanji that starred the late Robin Williams. The Williams’ version came out in 1995 and the sequel takes place soon after in 1997, where Jumanji has evolved from a board game to a video game.

In this modernized version, four high school kids randomly end up in detention together. Those kids are Spencer, Fridge, Bethany, and Martha (Alex Wolff, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, and Morgan Turner respectively). While tasked with removing staples from soon to be recycled magazines in what looks like the school’s basement, Spencer stumbles upon an old video game console. He and Fridge investigate and decide to try it out. Once the foursome is focused on the video game and choose their characters, they get sucked into the game and turn into the characters they chose.

Now full-grown adults, Spencer (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), Fridge (Kevin Hart), Bethany (Jack Black), and Martha (Karen Gillan) have to lift the curse on Jumanji in order to return back to their normal lives. This part of the film can’t come fast enough because from here on, hilarity ensues.

Jumanji group shot

While all four characters provide comedy in their own ways, nothing touches the back and forth between Spencer and Fridge (The Rock & Kevin Hart). Their synergy was apparent like their prior film together Central Intelligence. Fridge was once a tall, muscular football player but in the game, he’s short, out of shape, and has a weakness to cake. In contrast, Spencer was a Grade A nerd before the game, but in the game, he’s the hero with all the positive attributes and no weaknesses. Following in a close second is when Bethany, the pretty, self-absorbed teenie bopper turns into Jack Black, a fat, hairy… guy.

The team has to work together and find a green gem that was stolen from a statue of a Panther that watches over all of Jumanji. The only problem in this film is that the antagonist is an absolute joke. Van Pelt in the original film was a famed marksman, but in this version (Bobby Cannavale), he’s just evil. He’s not scary or sinister and the way they tried to force that on him didn’t work at all. The only word I can think to accurately describe 2017 Van Pelt is cheesy.

Jumanji kevin hart

The film overall is hilarious and if you want a good PG-13 laugh you should check it out this weekend. I give Jumanji an 8.5 out of 10. Now I want you all to pay attention to the scene where they find “the missing piece.” In the scene where they find the piece, you’ll see a subtle yet soft tribute to Alan Parrish (Robin Williams). Once you see this and it knocks you right in the feels, you’ll truly feel like the two films are connected.

 

-Jon J.

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