Okay, So The New ‘Jumanji’ Is Surprisingly Not Shithouse

Jumanji Welcome To The Jungle

The new Jumanji movie, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, came out over the Xmas period and even though it looks completely stupid, it’s actually… rather good.

i know m8 i’m as shook as you are

Shocked, I decided to keep this opinion to myself until my colleague, P.TV‘s multimedia and news writer Courtney, boldly made the very same declaration during our first day back at work.

Together, we decided to give our relatively spoiler-free review of the flick so you can weigh up whether you want to see it if after you’ve done The Last Jedi six hundred times…

JOSIE: So I was totally against this reboot/remake/update/sequel whatever it is when it was announced, because I loved the 1995 original and I love Robin Williams deeply. But I found myself having a giggle at the trailer despite my better judgement and I really like the cast, so I thought I’d give it a go over the Xmas period.

COURTNEY: Yeah I went into the movie purely because 1) it was ridiculously hot outside and we needed somewhere cool to relax, and 2) my friend had already seen Star Wars and didn’t want to see it again.

JOSIE: I went with my older brother, which was kinda ‘nawww’ because we saw the original together back in the day.

COURTNEY: I think sequels are dangerous territory, especially when you’re going in for round two over 20 years since the original. There’s a very slim margin that it’ll be a good film, and 1995’s Jumanji is Robin Williams at his best. He’d done Mrs Doubtfire two years’ before, and would film Birdcage the year after. I remember seeing the trailer for Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle floating around and thinking: “Well how can they do better than the original? They can’t. It’s a bold move and I won’t be surprised if it flops.”

JOSIE: Yes! It had “potential flop” written all over it. The main three stars have a kind of chequered IMDB resume. The Rock, Jack Black and Kevin Hart have all had big hits and yuge bombs, so it could have gone either way.

COURTNEY: When I got home from the cinema, The Scorpion King starring The Rock was on TV and lemme tell ya – it doesn’t really hold up.

JOSIE: It’s…not good.

COURTNEY: I think his sideburns were painted on. That was like his first leading role!

pretty sure he is totally bald under that weave

JOSIE: To be honest, I didn’t go into this film with high expectations aside from perving at his enormous biceps and enjoying a few shouty Kevin Hart moments, but pretty much from the very beginning I was into it. The teen backstory was set up really well.

COURTNEY: I went into the film extremely blind – all I knew was that it was a revisit of Jumanji for the new age. Like, what if Jumanji but, video game. I think it was set up well with the transition from traditional board game to something more “new” (though 1996 video game consoles are definitely dated now).

JOSIE: Although, how did the video game end up in the school? Did we find that out ever?

COURTNEY: Maybe Alex Vreeke’s dad donated it to the school’s AV Club after his kid disappeared into the game at the start? That game just has a knack for CONVENIENTLY showing up.

JOSIE: I guess the writers were just like “Whatever we don’t have to be too literal here”. It’s a movie about an enchanted game, FFS. So Jumanji in video game format shows up in a school storeroom, and four teens (with classic Breakfast Club-style vastly different personalities, of course) find it during detention. There’s a bit of backstory set up for each character, but not too much which is good. Because we’re all here for The Rock, Kevin Hart and Jack Black.

COURTNEY: I absolutely found myself cringing at Bethany and her Instagram-fuelled vanity/general dependence on her phone but also was like ‘oh god it’s me’. I took a photo the other day and ADJUSTED something in the photo so it would look better who am I!!

JOSIE: Yeah, the teens were a little two-dimensional. But it was such fun seeing them played out by the adult cast. I thought Karen Gillan did a great job looking like an awkward teenage girl in her tiny outfit. Just her posture and the way she held herself. So accurate.

COURTNEY: All the adult actors playing teenage characters was done very well. I haven’t seen anything like that since Freaky Friday, I reckon.

JOSIE: Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan were so awesome in that. In Jumanji, they really could have gone too far with the teens in adult bodies thing, but I thought it was just enough. Everyone did it well, I thought, but Jack Black was hilarious as Bethany. I mean, he wasn’t at the level of Chris Lilley as Ja’mie, but it was along those lines.

COURTNEY: I genuinely don’t think I’ve enjoyed Jack Black in anything since School Of Rock so I was VERY wary of him playing the role of a teenage girl, but he did it so well, I’m furious, haha.

And Dwayne Johnson did extremely well as a sensitive, less-masculine, nerdy character. He practically removed any self-confidence and replaced it with teenage anxiety and a disbelief that he’s attractive to anyone, which is such a stark contrast from what characters we’ve all come to know Dwayne to play.

JOSIE: I actually feel like it was one of his best performances. Which, when I was walking in to see this movie, I did not think I would be saying afterwards. You know what else I liked? The video game element. How they had different levels to get through and big bosses to defeat. And the nods to video game staples like characters who can only say one phrase. And cut scenes!

COURTNEY: YES. Rhys Darby’s character was such a quintessential NPC (non-player character) it was amazing. Like those kinds of NPCs that won’t shut up no matter how much you mash the A button, and then you accidentally hit the button at the wrong moment and get stuck in that infinite loop again.

JOSIE: He really was. And I love Rhys Darby so it was so fun to see him. Another bit was when Nick Jonas‘ character was leading them through that tunnel that was just filled with ridiculous hazards, like blades coming out of the walls and crocodiles. Such a video game sequence.

COURTNEY: I like how it leans a lot on the concept of video games, rather than just setting up the video game aspect in the first 10 mins and then ignoring it for the rest of the time.

JOSIE: Meanwhile, did you get the feeling Bobby Cannavale was just having the best time playing the villain?

COURTNEY: Absolutely. You know who he reminded of? Josh Peck. He’s like, the darkest timeline Josh Peck.

JOSIE: Any final thoughts on the movie? I thought the pacing was good, I didn’t get bored and I just really had a good time watching it. Like, it’s not going to win the Oscar for Best Picture but it was good fun. And well worth my brother’s $30 (he paid for my ticket, score!). I can see why it’s doing well at the box office – which is no mean feat with Star Wars out there dominating.

COURTNEY: It’s surprisingly charming, a very fun action-adventure film with enough moments in there that made me actually laugh out loud (and almost knock over my Xtreme Popcorn). Would probably actually go quite well as a double feature with the original, if only to point out how much more advanced CGI is now. It made me think though, how will Jumanji return? In an app? I bet it’s an app. Or ‘Facebook game Jumanji that your mum keeps inviting you to play no matter how many times you ignore the requests’.

JOSIE: Or Jumanji meets Tinder. I’d swipe right for Nick Jonas, just sayin’.


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is in cinemas now, and the original Jumanji is streaming on Stan, if you want some nostalgia.