Fun Yet Forgettable: Our Review of ‘Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - December 19, 2017
Fun Yet Forgettable: Our Review of ‘Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle’

While familiarity breeds comfort, it hardly does anything for innovation or originality…

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is an entertaining enough romp that gives some subtle nods to the original film, it borrows far too much from a myriad of other features in spite of some solid performances from a cast that at least to some degree knows to not take it all too seriously and just have some fun with it all.

It’s just your average day at high school when four teens come together in detention and discover an old video game console with a game they’ve never heard of, they are immediately thrust into the game’s jungle setting, into the bodies of their avatars, played by Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan. What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji -Jumanji plays you. They’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, or they’ll be stuck in the game forever.

While it’s hardly high art; Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is a perfectly functional piece of family friendly entertainment that allows everyone involved to not only stay relative true to the tone of the material but also to do a little bit of sly goofing off for their own entertainment at the exact same time.

It’s a film that straddles genres, almost to the point that it is a little forced but Jake Kasdan was at least a solid choice to unfold the narrative.  While the first act does take a little too long to get going it plays well enough once the action gets going.  It manages to ride deep into the action movie motif while still letting it all unfold with a fairly light and deft touch from beginning to end.  The action set pieces are a little goofy but in the context of a video game everything works as well it should.  It’s a script that is fairly thread bear when it comes to character development but it lays enough (all be it barely enough) of a groundwork for us to get invested in these characters as everyday teenagers before they get thrust into the game.  While there, all the actors involved walk the line laid out in the narrative, they have to take things seriously…just not all that seriously while they discover some key character traits about themselves that they’ve yet to discover while navigating the halls of high school.

It was certainly a smart move getting Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson into the leading role slot for this romp as there just aren’t that many people out there in the business today who can handle action setups and sequences and have an inherent comedic sensibility in their performance, and quite frankly Johnson can handle action and comedy simultaneously with both of his eyes closed and one hand tied behind his back.  He’s just that good from start to finish as the script itself even plays up his smoldering movie star charisma for some laughs to great effect.

Much like in their previous film together; Central Intelligence, Kevin Hart plays the straight man here and it works well enough in concert with everything else going on.  While Karen Gillan plays into the sexy nerd motif with a certain degree of aplomb it really is Jack Black who is the only one who truly has a sense of the material that he is work with.  In many ways he is truly trolling the movie, but he gets all the great jokes, hamming it up as a teenage girl trapped in the character of an old fat guy.  He never hesitates to lean into the goofy elements of the story while maintaining the theme of them all having to learn how to work together as a team.  While Bobby Cannavelle gets a couple of moments to chew the scenery as a bad guy, there really aren’t any high level acting efforts on display which is sadly shown by young Nick Jonas who really just can’t act and Rhys Darby who gets wasted in a one note role.

At the end of the day, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is a more then entertaining little time waster that will delight audiences of all ages, as long as you don’t hope to remember a lot about it by the time the credits roles.

This post was written by
David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.