Decisions can be unusual in Rapid City. For example, I had to choose between going with a girlfriend to see Jumanji -OR- invite her to the local Outdoor Campus to attend a Women’s Goose Hunting course. The write up stated: “Bring a friend or meet new friends and learn how to hunt geese. Tips on hunting from pits, setting up decoys, firearm safety, proper clothing and gear, rules and regulations and licenses needed.”
Thankfully we decided to attend a lively, wholesome movie. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has broad performances, bloodless scares and self-empowering life lessons that don’t involve teaching me what I needed to kill an unsuspecting goose.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel, not a remake of the 1995 Jumanji movie with Robin Williams based on the book where players find their home invaded by predators. In this sequel four very different teens get whisked away into a cyberworld where they find themselves inhabiting their avatar bodies.
What’s amusing about this is seeing adult actors such as Dwayne Johnson gazing upon his huge biceps with the eyes of a meek teen, much like most of us do. And Jack Black crying out in horror at his squat reflection – the avatar of a blonde high school girl. While the diminutive Kevin Hart – the avatar of a kid built like a line backer – screams “Where’s the rest of me?” These characters have to learn and develop how to use their avatars while also learning to work together as a team to survive, which isn’t something they did as high schoolers.
I didn’t care when the CGI looked artificial because Jumanji is an artificial world. It’s fun to watch Johnson use the sight of his avatar body to teach himself not to run away from peril and give him courage. And Gillan who comes to terms with her inner fighter. Each hero has to mature and learn the lesson that they only get one life to live. How are they going to live it? (even though the avatars get three)
Like everyone else, I was very skeptical of this film thinking the directors would attempt to recreate the original. However, I was either smiling or laughing the entire movie, as was the rest of the theater. Is it Citizen Kane? No. Was I going to the theater wanting to watch a drama that delved deep into the characters’ lives or leave the theater questioning? No. We left the theater entertained by both a good stand alone and a fitting fantastical sequel to what had come before.
I recommend for ages 13+.