Jumanji (1995)

JumanjiDirector: Joe Johnston
Run Time: 1h 44m
Stars: 3.5

A game for those who seek to find a way to leave their world behind.

Fun Fact: I owned the Jumanji board game when I was younger. Granted it wasn’t made of wood and voodoo.

After being buried for 100 years, a board game manipulates its way into the hands of nerdy preteen Alan Parrish (Adam Hann-Byrd). The son of a wealthy shoe maker, Alan is the target of the town bullies. His only friend is Sarah Whittle (Laura Bell Bundy). The two of them accidentally start playing the board game Alan found one night and immediately bad things happen. Alan is sucked into the game, doomed to wait until some other player rolls a 5 or 8 to bring him back from the game’s jungle. It isn’t until 26 years later that orphaned siblings Judy and Peter Shepherd (Kirsten Dunst and Bradley Pierce) move in to the old Parrish house with their aunt that the game is rediscovered. They start to play, releasing a grown up Alan (Robin Williams) back to Brantford, NH. Alan, Judy, Peter, and an emotionally unstable Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) vow to finish the game to free their world from the horrors that the game has unleashed. But it won’t be easy. Because in Jumanji, it’s the law of the jungle that decides your fate.

My whole family loved Jumanji when it came out. It was a fun movie we could all watch together. The magic is shouldered by the late legend, Robin Williams, but the film as a whole was enjoyable. Jumanji boasts comedy, story, character, and adventure.

Even though Williams was not able to unleash the full extent of his comedic genius, he was able to deliver a solid performance as the adult Alan Parrish. Bonnie Hunt did a great job as the fragile adult Sarah. She and Williams played well off of one another. The child actors managed to keep up as well. Granted, Kirsten Dunst was already a well-established actor by this point. The group worked well together and their chemistry made the characters and the story believable. And I would have to guess that Jonathan Hyde had a fun time playing the dual role of Alan’s father Sam, and Alan’s enemy Van Pelt. He was a great villain!

What didn’t hold up so well was the CGI. When I was a kid, the horrors that came out of the game seemed so life-like. Now they’re just laughable. I mean, the monkeys are border-line cartoonish. The effects certainly aren’t the worst ones to come out of the 1990’s, but they do cheapen the production overall.

Despite the cringe-worthy effects, it’s the lovable characters and upbeat adventure that keeps this movie a classic. It’s one of several Robin Williams movies I loved as a child and will continue to love forever. If you missed seeing Jumanji, I would highly recommend you check it out. It’s safe for the kids, too.

Robin Williams had previously teamed up with some kids to go after a villainous sociopath in 1991’s Hook.


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