Welcome to the Jungle – Some Thoughts on Jumanji

Unlike most of the rest of the world I’d never watched Jumanji until the other day when I picked it up cheap on DVD and saw it as a kind of semi-tribute to the late, great Robin Williams.

Don’t worry, I’ll keep this review nice and short – no pseudo-psychological media studies nonsense here.

I won’t bother describing the plot – I assume if you are reading this, you’ve seen it. If you haven’t why are you here? Not that I don’t love having you around, of course.

Anyway – some general thoughts, randomly ordered as I’m a lazy sod.

  1. Alan the protagonist gets sucked into a jungle in 1969, aged 12 and somehow manages to stay alive for the next 26 years without getting eaten. Let’s get this straight – a kid (and not a particularly tough one at that) gets dropped into an environment teeming with predators and yet he stays alive? And how come the human hunter doesn’t catch him? Geez, he must be the worst big-game hunter ever. In the history of big-game hunting.
  2. Somehow Alan’s disappearance causes the entire town to turn into shitsville as his dad lets his business go to wrack and ruin, putting everyone who worked there out of a job. Who’d’ve thought one kid’s disappearance could cause such chaos, eh?
  3. Who made the frickin’ game in the first place? Nobody ever mentions this. Given EVERY FRICKIN’ TIME somebody rolls the dice something awful appears, we can only assume it was the work of a sadistic wizard or Satan. Somebody somewhere built a reality-shifting boardgame, the sole purpose of which seems to be to kill the players in as imaginatively creative ways as possible. Nobody seems particularly bothered by this though. Oh, look, it’s just a wacky board game – let’s give it a try, eh? Aww, we can’t stop playing until we get to the end. Shucks, guess we’re just gonna have to keep on conjuring shit to come and kill us all, eh?
  4. Alan wrestles a crocodile bare-handed. Yet he survived 26 years in the jungle? I already covered this didn’t I? Can’t fault him for bravery, but he’s not the sharpest adze in the rainforest, is he?

Despite this, it’s still a pretty fun film with excellent effects for the time, which are inevitably its main draw. The late, great Robin Williams is as entertaining as ever, although the script doesn’t give him as much room as normal to flex his comedic muscles. The house itself is way-cool especially the library which makes an ideal setting for the rampaging rhinos and other scary critters which pop out every time somebody rolls the dice.

Verdict ***

What would make it better? End the film with Alan / Sarah using their newfound wealth to have the Jumanji game locked in an impregnable adamantium safe and fired into outer space on a one-way ticket to the middle of a supernova. Fuck burying it!



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