WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
A total piece of crap. A waste of your time and money.
Film Review © 2017 by Trip Reynolds
Fantasy, Comedy, Drama
Directed by Jake Kasdan. Screen story by Chris McKenna. Screenplay by Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg, and Jeff Pinker. Based on the book, "Jumanji" by Chris Van Allsburg. Based on the fiulm, "Jumanji" screen story and screenplay by Greg Taylor. Produced by William Teitler and Matt Tolmach. Executive produced by Ted Field, Dany Garcia, David B. Householter, Dwayne Johnson, Jake Kasdan, and Mike Weber. Co-produced by Hiram Garcia and Melvin Mar.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson (as Spencer/Dr. Smolder Bravestone), Kevin Hart (as Fridge/Franklin "Mouse" Finbar), Jack Black (as Bethany/Professor Sheldon "Shelly" Oberon), Karen Gillan (as Martha/Ruby Roundhouse), Nick Jonas (as Alex/Jefferson "Seaplane" McDonough), Rhys Darby (as Nigel), Bobby Cannavale (as Van Pelt), Alex Wolff (as high school Spencer), Madison Iseman (as high school Bethany), Ser'Darius Blain (as high school Anthony "Fridge" Johnson), Morgan Turner (as high school Martha Kaply), Mason Guccione (as high school Alex Vreeke), and a host of others.
The story? While in after school detention, four dsyfunctional high school students discover an old video game console, then after selecting their alter egos to play the game, they are mystically drawn into the game's jungle setting, and they literally become the adult avatars they chose. Unfortunately, they quickly discover they must play Jumanji or risk their actual death, both as an avatar and in "real" life. Given the aforementioned, please note the following:
THE "HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT" THEIR JUMANJI GAME ALTER EGO Actor Role Real Age Actor Role Real Age Alex Wolff Spencer Gilpin,
born, November 1, 1997 (age 20) Dwayne Johnson Spencer / Dr. Smolder Bravestone, archaeologist born May 2, 1972 (age 45) Madison Iseman Bethany Walker,
pretty and popular narcissist
born February 14, 1997 (age 20) Jack Black Bethany / Professor Sheldon "Shelly" Oberon, cartographer, cryptographer, archaeologist, paleontologist born August 28, 1969 (age 48) Ser'Darius Blain Anthony "Fridge" Johnson, football jock born March 10, 1987 (age 30) Kevin Hart Fridge / Franklin "Mouse" Finbar, zoologist and weapons specialist born July 6, 1979 (age 38) Morgan Turner Martha Kaply, the introvert born April 29, 1999 (age 18) Karen Gillan Martha / Ruby Roundhouse, commando, martial artist, dance fighter born November 28, 1987 (age 30) Mason Guccione Alex Vreeke born August 17, 1995 (age 22) Nick Jonas Alex / Jefferson "Seaplane" McDonough born September 16, 1992 (age 25)
So, here's the deal, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is supposed to make us believe he's NOT a 45-year-old archaeologist, but instead, his body only functioned as the receptacle for the mind (and soul) of a high school student. NEWS FLASH: Dwayne Johnson was miscast for this part, he's looks and acts too old, and he looked totally out of place. Johnson's role as archaeologist adventurer Dr. Smolder Bravestone is nothing more than a parody of Harrison Ford's role as Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr., archaeologist in the classic 1981 film, "Raiders of the Lost Ark," but Ford was a gruffy but fit 38-years-of-age young man. Conversely, Johnson looked and pranced around like muscle-bound Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Commando (1985)," or worse, as nothing more than an update of a similar role leading a group of misfits in "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012)." As demonstrated by his strong acting performances in "Faster (2010 film)," and "Ballers (2015-present) on HBO," when cast in the right role Dwayne Johnson has the ability to be a very good actor, but such was not the case in this poorly cast film. The only "age and character appropriate" casting was Karen Gillan as the alter ego of Morgan Turner's "Martha Kaply," but when Gillan's "Martha" attempted to kiss Johnson's "Spencer" it became immediately clear that watching their awkward kiss was exceedingly creepy and disgusting but not entertaining.
Jack Black's bearded and very effeminate Professor Oberon was the alter ego receptable of Madison Iseman's narcissistic "Bethany," which provided frequent attempts at bathroom humor based on "sexual discovery" of male genitalia. Frankly, the American comedy filmmaking trio of Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker who wrote, produced, and directed Airplane! (1980), Police Squad! (1982), The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988), Hot Shots! (1991), and Scary Movie 3, 4, and 5 would have exploited "sexual discovery" more graphically and with greater comedic success.
What this film lacked more than anything else was a comedic actor, male (Jim Carrey?) or female (Tiffany Haddish?), to lead the story. This is a primary reason for the success of the original 1995 film, "Jumanji," which starred the phenomenally talented, the late Robin Williams. Instead, we essentially have four "episodes" of a standard TV-scripted pseudo-adventure divided equally among four actors. In the original 1995 film "Jumanji, and in the opening sequence of this remake, the Jumanji board game appeared like a one-of-a-kind, very rare board game, and not some 1980s-ish mass-marketed electronic video game. This made the story unique, and the film's outcome had uncertainty. Deviating to a video game Jumanji did less to make the film more contemporary, but more to make the story uneventful, boring, and very predictable: they should have just hit the reset button to end this crap and get out of the jungle.
Consequently, as with the script, all acting performances were color-by-number, perfunctory, and predictable. Film direction by Jake Kasdan was also perfunctory. Film editing by Steve Edwards and Mark Helfrich is sharp, but pace was not brisk; film should have been trimmed from 159 minutes to 90 minutes. The original 1995 film, "Jumanji," was only 104 minutes long, and as represented by the trailer below, it was far more entertaining than the 2017 remake.
Recommendation: This film is not worthy of a theatrical release, but is appropirate for made-for-TV, or made-for-cable TV, or made for direct-to-market DVD.