REVIEW: “Jumanji” is a surprisingly enjoyable comedy


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“Jumanji” features four high schoolers sucked into a video game.

There’s not many times when you can say that there’s a good movie starring Jack Black acting as a teenage girl after being sucked into a video game, but “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” appears to be the exception.

The movie – which picks up from where its 1995 predecessor left off – details the story on how four teenagers found a mystical game known as Jumanji and are sucked into its jungle. Their only option: escape using the mechanics of the game.

United through detention, the four players act as different high school stereotypes; a nerd (Alex Wolff), a jock (Ser’Darius Blain), a loner (Morgan Turner) and a stereotypical princess (Madison Iseman). When they’re taken by Jumanji, however, their game avatars act as their complete opposites.

The nerd becomes ultra-strong Dwayne Wayne, the jock becomes 5’4” Kevin Hart, the loner becomes Karen Gillan in an over-revealing outfit (designed to poke fun at the video game stereotype) and the princess becomes Jack Black.

This becomes somewhat of a center point to the film’s plot: not only do their new bodies allow the characters to progress through the game with their specific abilities (Hart, for example, acting as zoologist Moose Finbar) but are also the keys to character development.

Allowing the high schoolers to take on the lives of somebody completely different gives them enough perspective to change how they are.

It was also pretty funny.

Watching The Rock act like a geek and trying not to cry a lot of the time makes for a great experience. For a family movie, the humor is kept relatively smart – obvious enough for almost anybody to get, yet not dumb enough to get groans from the audience.

However, the film’s body swapping does present a few issues: oftentimes, the main romance between Johnson and Gillan feels forced and uncomfortable to watch due to the difference in their appearances. Jack Black’s portrayal of a basic mean girl, while with its moments, is overall just a way to get a few cheap laughs from the audience.

Still, it has to be taken into consideration that the film isn’t supposed to be a masterpiece; it’s not meant to be watched seriously and overanalyzed. For one of those action-comedy movies that to sit back and enjoy, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is definitely up there as one of the best this year.

Perfect for an end of the year holiday movie, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is great to watch for its absurd humor and silliness. Especially since sequels made twenty years after the original are usually disasters, the movie holds up exceptionally well, paying tribute to the late Robin Williams. And then, it has the added benefit that watching The Rock punch people through walls is definitely kind of fun.

Okay, really fun.