Bumble in the Jungle: Jumanji review

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Image courtesy of Matakana Cinemas

As a big fan of the ‘Jumanji’ (1995), I was desperate to see what ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ (2017) had in store.

The trailer looked hilarious and it seemed like a wholesome, family film. With popcorn in hand, I was ready to go.

‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ is a sequel, not a remake of the original 1995 ‘Jumanji’, starring Robin Williams. In the original film, players play Jumanji the board game, and must endure the animals, human and predatory insects that comes out of the jungle and into their everyday life. However, in the sequel, four teenagers in detention are sucked into a virtual version of the original game, ending up in the jungle itself with hilariously different avatars.

The nerdy teenager turns into big-bicepped Dwayne Johnson, the brainy mis-fit girl finds herself inhabiting Karen Gillan’s barely clothed body, the popular girl becomes Jack Black and the large and muscled line-backer becomes small Kevin Hart.

And this is where my problem starts with the film. ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ is built on old-school stereotypes, which today, seem all too repetitive. The team of stereotypical misfits must overcome obstacles, like rhinos, wild cats, hippos and Bobby Canavale to restore a gem on a mountaintop and then shout “JUMANJI”. Only then can the team exit the game and return to their normal lives. If they don’t complete the task, they will be stuck in the game forever.

Personally, I feel the whole plot is predictable. The film starts off with teenagers in detention – does this remind you of The Breakfast Club? Then throughout the team’s peril and adventures, each character comes to a self-moralising epiphany. The popular girl learns to put down her phone, the nerdy teenager learns how to approach women etc. PREDICTABLE SPOILER: the team manages to restore the jewel, shout JUMANJI and go back to their lives. Only this time, they have discovered a new-found friendship.

Having said this, I couldn’t help laughing at the individual characters. A combination of Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan is going to get any cinema-goer laughing. The stars really bring out their teenage counter-parts and it is perhaps the obvious stereotypes turned on their heads which redeems the film from its obvious and predictable plot.

It is hilarious to watch Jack Black act as a young, self-absorbed young girl and Gillan’s physical comedy is just brilliant. Her character, Ruby Roundhouse, the timid, mis-fit girl, must learn how to flirt, smolder and dance fight. And Johnson and Hart’s battle for masculinity, to become leader of the group, only gets funnier as the movie goes on. Firstly, the physical height difference is a source of comedy and immediate conflict between the two, which is only exacerbated by their contrasting personality traits; Hart is the self-absorbed, dominating line-backer while Dwayne is the intelligent and logical member of the group.

Although the plot is too predictable, I would argue that the actors/actresses make the film. It is still an entertaining watch, it will get you chuckling and is a must-see for the family.