‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’: A modern take on the classic

‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,’ released Dec. 20, is a modern version of the story. It's a mash-up of the old 'Jumanji' and 'The Breakfast Club.' (photo courtesy of 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle' trailer)

‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,’ released Dec. 20, is a modern version of the story. It's a mash-up of the old 'Jumanji' and 'The Breakfast Club.' (photo courtesy of 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle' trailer)

The original ‘Jumanji’ movie came out in 1995 and followed the story of two siblings who got stuck in a board game and had to beat it in order to survive. The movie, while based on a children’s book, was actually quite scary.  It was made as a family movie but was more well-received by adults due to the intense nature of the film. ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,’ released Dec. 20, is a modern version of the story targeted at viewers our age.

The new take on the movie is a mash-up of the old ‘Jumanji’ and ‘The Breakfast Club.’ The four main characters, each from a different high school social class, wind up in detention together. While they’re cleaning the basement of their school, they find an old gaming system with a cartridge labeled “Jumanji.”

The plot is a mirror of the original, but the movie focuses more on comedy than thrills. The four teens get sucked into the video game and take on the appearances and talents of the in-game characters they arbitrarily selected on the main screen.  Most notably, the popular, blonde girl who is obsessed with her phone becomes the short, chubby cartographer played by none other than Jack Black.

The movie’s cast is full of big names, featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas and The Naked Brothers Band’s own Alex Wolff.

The characters have to win the game to escape it, but doing so requires them to risk their lives. If they run out of lives in the game, they die in real life.

The movie excellently mixes together serious moments with comedic relief. The humor doesn’t overshadow the movie and the jokes are targeted towards a college-aged audience. The characters are forced to deal with being in bodies that are not their own—in one case, that of an entirely different gender—which makes for some interesting and hilarious moments. The movie also features a love story between two awkward teens who have no idea how flirt or even talk to the opposite sex—who are then played by adults—and tons of scenes that leave viewers laughing so hard that it hurts.

The film does a great job with character development. The characters realize that they can learn from each other and they each bring their strengths forward to help win the game. They’re forced out of their comfort zones by having to literally be someone else and trust people they’d never talk to in their normal lives. It’s an interesting dynamic that makes for a great movie.

The fact that the film takes place in a video game also makes for an interesting part of the plot. The movie low-key calls out the way video games design their female characters and pokes fun  at how video game logic doesn’t make sense when applied to real life. And since each character only has three lives, it follows a theme of living life to its fullest and not being afraid to take opportunities that might push you out of your comfort zone.

Overall, the film was an excellent addition to the ‘Jumanji’ franchise and holds up to its predecessor. It effectively mixes a serious plot with comedic elements and real-world lessons to create an interesting and entertaining movie.

Rating: 4.5/5


Courtney Gavitt is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at courtney.gavitt@uconn.edu.