Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Opening Wednesday, Dec. 20
A reboot of the 1995 adventure pic starring Robin Williams, the new Jumanji revisits the world of the first story, but with a twist.
Once again, a group of kids get magically zapped into a game world, but the gimmick is that each kid assumes the role of an archetypal action-adventure character. The skinny nerd becomes the hunky Dr. Xander Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson). The football jock becomes the pipsqueak sidekick (Kevin Hart). The pretty, popular girl gets gender-switched into a frumpy archaeologist (Jack Black). Like that.
What follows in an utterly generic jungle adventure story, with CGI fauna crashing through CGI flora and Bobby Cannavale as evildom’s least interesting villain. Director Jake Kasdan inserts some Breakfast Club dynamics among the characters, and it can be fun to see what each performer does with the assigned shtick.
Alas, six different writers are credited with the script, and the story-by-committee approach results in a boring string of alternating comedy and action sequences. Nothing surprising happens, and the film has exactly one good joke at the beginning, before any action starts, concerning modern parenting. As one of the kids leaves for school, his mom kisses him goodbye and issues her daily advice: “The world is a terrifying place, be afraid of everything!” There’s a whole other movie in that one line.
Anyway, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is about what you’d expect: A warmed over serving of profitable intellectual property inserted into the holiday family movie season. It’s competent, intermittently fun, and totally disposable.