Well seeing as this is a board game review site, I can see why a review of the Jumanji movie is called for. It just so happens that one of my cable stations has been playing this film an awful lot.
I’ll admit I had missed this movie when it was originally released as well as the cartoon spin-off but those are other reviews. Perhaps a bit about the film before we talk about it in depth?
Jumanji is an adventurous tale which starts out with a flashback to the past. Two desperate teenagers are trying to bury a board game which they seem afraid of. The game beats with a drum beat of life and is buried. Flash forward to present, 1969 to Alan Parrish who is having the typical young boy problems. It seems Alan has a female friend, Sarah White, who also has a jealous would-be boyfriend.
So Alan is chased all the way to his father’s shoe factory. Yes, Alan’s the son of the wealthiest man in town, which can’t make for an easy time. His father shows him the only love he knows how which is "tough" love and tells Alan he has to own up to facts and face the consequences of his actions.
It’s also here that Alan accidentally has Carl Bentley (David Alan Grier) fired for a mistake Alan caused. Afraid to own up to the mistake, Alan runs home. On the way he finds the buried Jumanji game and takes it home, where he and Sarah play it. Alan is then magically drawn into the board game and vanishes.
Now, 36 years later, we see the Parrish estate in a shambles and recently purchased by Nora Sheppard (Bebe Neuwirth) and her niece, Judy (Kristin Dunst) and nephew, Peter (Bradley Pierce). Judy and Peter have just recently lost their parents in a car accident. They both don’t want to be here in this new town and as they help clean up the house they discover the old Jumanji board game.
As the two children go to play the game, they accidentally release Alan (Robin Williams) who is all grown up now. The game apparently never ended and the three go off to find an older Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) and the four continue to play the mischievous board game.
The game offers up wild encounters such as monkeys, killer insects, man eating plants and even a deranged game hunter named Van Pelt (Jonathan Hyde), who is after Alan from his time spent in the game’s magical jungle.
All in all by the end, the kids beat the game. Everything is undone which was done by the game’s magic, Alan and Sarah are returned to their young teenage selves back in time before this all began and they fall in love. Alan is able to own up to his mistake and Carl is never fired. Alan and Judy also end up married.
By now in the present again, Alan has inherited his father’s company and thus hired Judy and Peter’s parents as employees, thus making them miss their fatal auto accident. Even though Judy and Peter don’t remember their time playing the game, Alan and Sarah do.
Pros and cons
Okay, where to begin? This movie is a wild, fantastic family film. Full of laughs and edge of your seat excitement.
However, it doesn’t cater to the adult movie watcher. As I sat and watched this I was more concerned with: Where did the board game came from? Who made the game in the first place and why can it do all the insane magical things it does? None of these questions are ever answered or eluded to.
Even when Alan is released from the board game jungle, one is given the impression that no other humans live there but then how do you explain Van Pelt, a 17th century British big game hunter?
For my liking, too many plot holes make any visually stunning film seem like garbage. I have always shouted that great visuals don’t always make for a great film.