Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is directed by Jake Kasdan and is a standalone sequel to the original 1995 Jumanji film that starred the late, great Robin Williams.
On the flip side, this film stars a quartet in Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillian, and Jack Black as the respective avatars to a group of normal, everyday high school students. When this group stumbles upon the magical Jumanji video game in detention, they’re sucked into the virtual reality with no way to escape unless they can beat the game.
Good comedies are a dime a dozen these days and more often than not, they’re a misfire. I couldn’t say what the best comedy of the year would be… until now. Out of nowhere, this Jumanji movie is the sleeper pick for the biggest surprises of the year in comedy.
This reimagining of Jumanji does a great job of embracing the standards tropes and ideas of a video game. The narrative plays out just like a video game would and it makes for a lot of fun. The characters have three lives, their avatars have different skills, and the obstacles become more challenging as the game progresses forward.
Those are just your basic video game concepts, but the attention to detail is very appreciated. Just for an example or two, cut scenes are a given to video games and they’re utilized in this film. There’s cut scenes that indicate what the players need to know in order to proceed in the game.
Non-playable characters only say specific dialogue because that’s all they were program to say in the game. It’s elements such as these that make the film much more authentic and honest.
Comedy is only as good as the person who’s delivering the material and luckily, this cast has this script on lock. The two standouts are, not surprisingly, The Rock and very surprisingly Jack Black. Essentially, Johnson and Black are playing the opposite of their “type” role.
Dwayne Johnson is usually a big, jacked up, badass Samoan in all of his features. In this film, while Johnson is the avatar in the game, the boy inside him is actually a nerdy wimp and it’s entertaining to see Johnson just completely out of character.
Same goes for Jack Black as an avatar for one of the high schoolers. Only in his case, Black is the host body for the most popular cheerleader in school. Black is so consistently good at being a girl in an older, chubby man’s body and strangely enough, it really works.
As far as problems go, nothing glaring bad, but a couple of improvements could’ve been made. Kevin Hart is basically Kevin Hart-lite, he still works, but I would’ve liked to see him change it up like Johnson and Black. Sometimes the film’s pacing can drag towards the end, leading to a somewhat anticlimactic resolution with a generic villain.
Other than that, “Welcome to the Jungle” is a surprisingly great addition to its predecessor and a pleasant surprise of a movie in general. Loaded with great laugh-out-loud humor and wit that’s elevated by the likes of Johnson, Hart, and Black, makes this adaptation a fun, entertaining adventure to close out the year.
I’m going to give Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle a solid “B” as my final take. In this regard, this Jumanji movie is now one of the best video game movies to date. Go figure.
As always, thanks so much for reading and make sure to stay posted to Frank’s Takes for more reviews. Until next time, keep it 100.
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