Saturday, December 30, 2017

Movie Review: Jumanji

The game board comes alive in this classic kids movie with humor and decent special effects that have managed to hold up somewhat over twenty years. The story begins with two young boys in the 1860s burying the board game in fear, promising to never speak of it. A young Alan Parrish (Adam Hann-Byrd) discovers the game board at a construction site. He is constantly bullied and flees to his father's shoe factory. Alan's father Sam Parrish (Jonathan Hyde) is intimidating and plans to send Alan away to military school. A worker in the shoe factory Carl Bentley (David Alan Grier) has come up with a new sneaker idea but Alan accidentally leaves the prototype shoe on the conveyor which damages the machine. Alan has a crush on  Sarah Whittle (Laura Bell Bundy) who stops by his house late that night to apologize about her boyfriend beating him up. Alan's parents have gone to a special dinner so Alan invites Sarah inside to try out the mysterious board game. 

The two kids play the game and Alan is sucked into the board while Sarah is chased out of the house by bats. Years later two orphans, Peter (Bradley Pierce) and Judy Shepherd (Kirsten Dunst) arrive at the house that has remained abandoned since Alan went missing. Rumors have swirled about the Parrishes killing their son but their aunt Nora Shepherd (Bebe Neuwirth) still wants the house for the low price. Peter has become mute since his parents died and only speaks with Judy. The two kids hear the drumbeat of the game calling and pull the game out of the attic. They roll the dice and bring out monkeys and a lion. Peter rolls a five, which brings back a grown-up Alan Parrish (Robin Williams). Alan has been hiding in the jungle for years and has experience with the dangers of Jumanji.

The only way to put the creatures back into the game and reverse the effects is to finish the game but the kids and Alan can't keep playing without a grown-up Sarah (Bonnie Hunt). She is a recluse fortune teller who most people believe is crazy after her stories about Alan's disappearance. At first, she refuses to play the game but Alan and the kids convince her to roll. The animals continue to grow out of control from the mosquitos from Judy's first roll to growing vines that take over the house. Alan has to flee from a mad hunter who takes the same form as his father. They nearly lose the board but Peter saves it and tries to cheat his way to the end, which sends him back and starts to turn him into a monkey. Carl had to become a police officer and follows the chaos with amazement and terror. He teams up with Nora to hunt down the kids.

The group return to the house to finish the game but a monsoon starts to flood the first floor and blows Carl and Nora off the porch. Escaping a hungry hippo, they retreat to an attic where Alan is sucked into the floor by quicksand. Judy is struck by a poison a dart from a plant. The house starts to fall apart in an earthquake. A spider attacks monkey Peter. Alan finally rolled the last number needed to progress his piece to the end. Everything is sucked back into the game and time is reversed. Alan and Sarah have a chance to rekindle their relationship and start a family of their own. They meet Peter and Judy's parents but caution them away from taking the trip in which they died in the alternate timeline. As kids, they took the board game and dumped it in the river where it was discovered by a runner on the beach.

Jumanji is a fun movie that has held up for the two decades since it first came out. As a kid, I watched this film with fascination and just enough horror to make it interesting. The special effects looked a little goofy but there were enough props to make it still look great. Robin Williams was a true talent and did a great job with the humor and animal action. Kirsten Dunst was a good child actor who did a lot of memorable performances before becoming a good actor as an adult. I have great memories of Jumanji and it was nice to watch again as the franchise has been reborn these many years later. 

No comments:

Post a Comment