|Directed by||:||Jake Kasdan||Produced by||:||Matt Tolmach, William Teitler||Story by||:||Chris McKenna||Starring||:||Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale||Production company||:||Gyula Pados.||Distributed by||:||Sony Pictures, Entertainment|
Four teenagers discover an old video game console and are literally drawn into the game’s jungle setting, becoming the adult avatars they chose.
There are a lot of good things that have come out of the ’90s nostalgia boom, but plenty of them are bad. Studios are scrambling to greenlight anything that has the potential to bring in a bunch of 20 and 30-somethings with fond memories of the past. We got another one of these with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which is looking to upgrade the former board game idea and modernize with a video game. That isn’t a bad idea, and the movie does address the fact that Jumanji the game seems to be adapting as the times change. But the humor has also changed, as the movie takes a bunch of cheap shots at teenagers — mostly through Jack Black‘s character, who spends the entire movie talking like a 16-year-old girl from 1996.
The idea is that the various teenagers inhabit avatars from the games that are their opposites, which is a cute idea — but the movie doesn’t seem to do anything of substance with the idea. The concept of “lives” is there merely to prolong the plot and do a few death gags. The video game thing doesn’t really do much else aside from letting the heroes know their “weaknesses”, which are usually just pointless ways of getting an easy joke in. The movie abandons the idea of the killer animals and instead replaces them with henchmen that look straight out of a Mad Max movie.
There was potential to do some great humor when it came to video games. They could have made the henchmen all the same person. They address the costume that poor Karen Gillan is put in, but they don’t do anything aside from address it. They could have given her an alternate costume, which is something people in video games get all the time. They could have done something fun with this concept. Instead they aimed very low to see how many jokes they could get out of Black pretending to be a teen girl who is fascinated by the fact that she has a penis now.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle isn’t a terrible movie, and there are a few jokes that are probably going to land for some. However, it comes across as extremely lazy in its execution and a movie that was only made because they expected the name “Jumanji” would get people into theaters.