Review: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, a Great Holiday Flick for the Whole Family

Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson star in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. (Frank Masi)

Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson star in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. (Frank Masi)

Over 20 years after the events of the Jumanji film of the ‘90s, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle upgrades a tabletop classic come to life to a thrilling video game adventure. When four teens uncover an early video game console during detention, they find themselves on an adventure of a lifetime after agreeing to play.

They’re transported into the video game world of Jumanji and turned into characters in the game that are played by Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart and Jack Black. It’s hilarious because these actors portray the teenagers in spirit while looking like the heroes of the game but talking in millennial lingo and being filled with teen angst. The Rock as a socially awkward nerd and Jack Black as a social media obsessed popular girl was a riot.

Directed by Jake Kasdan, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has an old-school adventure-film-feel like Indiana Jones with its labyrinth set pieces and traps, as well as the look of the jungle. Even with the villains and goons, it definitely had a pulp serial feel in the era of the video game.

The game characters were very archetypal of the time, and it was fun to see the millennial kids squabble over how un-PC their roles in the game were while also utilizing the opposite personalities as something to learn from. The awkward kid was able to tap into the confidence of the hero he played through the Rock as his avatar. Seeing all the kids work together combining their real knowledge with the skillsets the game gave them was fun and worked well within the mythology of Jumanji.

One of the easter eggs in the film, a bigger version of the Elephant game piece from the Robin Williams film, stood out and was used very cleverly while giving a nod to the past. We also got some great nods to the character Williams played.

Filled with great action, relatable teen relationships and fantastic comedy, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a great holiday flick for the whole family. It’s a great escape that takes the world of the original film and expands it in a unique and relevant way while maintaining the heart of the story with its characters and speaking to the power of teamwork.

It will be interesting to see where this could go in the future as a series if they choose to go that route. The possibilities are exciting.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Columbia Pictures
Now in theaters

5 Stars

Films are rated on a scale of 5 stars (must-see), 4 stars (exceptional), 3 stars (solid), 2 stars (average) and 1 star (unworthy).

Sabina Ibarra is a Staff Reporter for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle and entertainment. Follow her on Twitter: @Wicked_Phoenix

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