this comes about a week after i saw it. actually exactly a week.
i’m probably going to talk in this one more about OG jumanji than about this version because i think the new one is better. you should not expect spoilers.
i absolutely adored this movie. it’s not exactly a sequel, it’s not a remake, it’s not a reboot, it’s more, ah… a re-imagining. jumanji in the 90s is an ancient board game, so jumanji in 2017 (set at first in 1996) is an atari cartridge, which is a perfect analogue. it has very clear rules, which are pretty absurd, i won’t lie, and it follows them to the absolute extent of that absurdity. every single rule the movie makes explicit leads to something, be it a key plot point or someone just… exploding (for a huge laugh). it’s funny as hell. and it’s not one sense of humor either. these are not the same jokes repeated over and over. the laughs are kept very fresh by the way the characters and cast interplay. even its dick jokes weren’t eye-rolling. there isn’t a lot of depth here–the characters aren’t beautifully-rounded portraits of human beings (although they do all grow in some way), there isn’t some overarching theme to write a thesis on how it blew your mind–in fact, turn your brain off and just have a good time.
i really don’t know what to say about the cast. karen gillan is a gem, the rock is bae, and there really isn’t much of anyone else they could have cast in this movie for this role except jack black, he is utterly perfect in every way. (i’ve seen chris hemsworth pull off something kind of similar, except he’s [long, embarrassing string of emoji] and jables looks like your spouse’s weird uncle, which mattered.) i’ve always been a little meh on kevin hart but he’s great in this. the cast kick ass. and this movie is a framed narrative, and even the cast outside the frame are good.
the only complaints i have are contained to this graph and they are mildly spoilerish (and EXTREMELY minor). warning… warning… warning… warning… didn’t care for the villain a lot. he’s pretty much just nasty and the final encounter with him wasn’t as dramatic as the setting really could have earned.
so those jokes i mentioned? they land for the entirety of the movie. start to finish. it doesn’t stop being funny when the stakes are raised. the fun for us doesn’t have to go away because shit got real for the characters. really this is just a wildly entertaining movie, and because it couldn’t give less of a shit how dumb and silly it is, it gets a solid good-good go-watch-this rating from me. this is the kind of movie i want to watch when i feel shitty. i may buy it (and i hate rewatching things). the ONLY thing i was actively disappointed by, which is different from a complaint, is that karen gillan didn’t say “bite me” at that one part. you’ll know the part. maybe she didnt because it was obvious but that was like, THE LINE. my head was SCREAMING it. “LOOK DOWN. LOOK UP. ‘BITE ME.’ DO ITTTTTT.” ah! well,
contrast this with the original jumanji, which i loved as a kid and have seen like 40 million times between the house and substitute teachers. i even had the IRL board game. (it was boring.) and yet………………………. what…. what is it? what is that movie attempting to be?
is it a comedy? then why doesn’t robin williams (pbuh) have jokes?
is it a family movie? then why is it so dark? why do adults just breeze on by when alan is getting the shit kicked out of him and his bike jacked? why does it look like the (omg that cgi is actually so bad lol) monkeys are going on a murder spree? why does everyone almost actually die somehow? why is the NRA’s wet dream in this movie?
is it a kid-thriller? then where is the suspense? we know what they need to do–just sit down and roll the dice, then pick up the game and run, and as soon as it’s safe again, do it again. stop dicking around and just do it. if it is a PG thriller why is van pelt a slapstick routine? he should be scary. he is defeated by a bar code scanner and outright squeals once.
what are the rules? it rains in the house when they roll monsoon. can they just go outside? what if they had rolled it outside? would the whole town flood? how come sometimes it just rains, but other times you roll a carniverous plant that shoots you with tranquilizers (lolwut), or murderous… seriously, were those chimps? bonobos? they look so bad it’s impossible to tell, or a fuckoff stampede that never ends (no problem if you just run perpendicular), or the Most Dangerous Game, or if you get extra unlucky, sucked physically into an actual jungle. OR MAYBE YOU JUST GET BATS LOL?
there’s a lot of similarity with what i just wrote and the honest trailer for jumanji. watch that, or don’t, see if i care, but those four minutes helped me express the little nagging “hang on” feeling i always had towards jumanji, despite loving it.
Numanji (i am not sorry and i will not apologize for that) knows exactly what it’s trying to do, and it does it well. maybe it’s easier because of the video game setting, but it also has clear rules (even if they are …random) and sticks to them. it utilizes its cast perfectly. it does a fine job taking the piss out of how dumb video games really are if you overthink them. and it even tries to bring home a motivational message without falling face first into a vat of cheese when it does so.
we grew up with jumanji as a classic, but really. numanji (still not sorry) is better. go see it. you’ll have a blast.