Review: Jumanji (1995)


I’m more used to Monopoly or Life, and I’m not even good at those games!

Screenplay By: Jonathan Hensleigh, Greg Taylor & Jim Strain
Directed By: Joe Johnston

This marks yet another movie where I was surprised to read scathing review after scathing review when checking out the popular opinion. Jumanji certainly isn’t high theater, but I find it funny how many people seem to have missed the point of the film. It’s short on story because the story doesn’t matter, Jumanji is about a group of people playing a game and running for their lives from all kind of exotic, and cool, creatures in between turns. Comedy also abounds, along with some well done CGI and animatronics. Kirsten Dunst isn’t in the least bit annoying, and there’s only like a handful of movies where that’s the case, so take that scathing reviews!

As I said above, the story in Jumanji is incredibly simple and really thin. It is very cliche and obvious, but the story is really superfluous in Jumanji so people ragging on the lack of story are watching the wrong film. There are moments that are too cheesy, even for a film about a magic board game, and some dialogue is really, really stupid. But, it’s not the perfect movie and I’m certainly not claiming as such. It’s not a terrible movie either, and as much as I am a fan of Roger Ebert, his claim that kids will be scared to death by this film shows how behind the times he is on certain issues. For kids in 1995, and this holds true today, Jumanji is like a pleasant nursery rhyme compared to most of what they watch.

What it all comes down to with Jumanji is whether or not you consider the events that happen to be fun. I quite enjoyed Robin Williams cracking jokes while the floor swallows him up, or Peter turning into a werewolf creature. Bonnie Hunt was also on hand to provide some more good humor, and hey, she’s actually good looking, don’t know why I never noticed that before. The ending is schmaltzy, but who cares, outside of facing your fears there isn’t any sort of message behind Jumanji. This is the very definition of a go and have a good time film, unless you’re too pent up over acceptable scary levels for children to notice anything else.

I’m not about to exalt Jumanji as a great movie for our times, it’s nothing more than a fun movie. That’s the totality of it all, I had a lot of fun with Jumanji and people who share my tastes will as well. Jumanji won’t change your opinion on film, it won’t be a life altering experience and it most certainly won’t scare children to death. But, it will be a fun experience and that’s more than enough in my book.




4 responses to “Review: Jumanji (1995)

  1. i think you did a very nice job with the movie jumanji from ryan bourke

  2. I was very glad to find a review of Jumanji that wasn’t negative. Reviewers who lambast the movie clearly missed the point. I remember well what it was like to watch it in 1995. Coming out on the heels of Jurassic Park, I actually found the special effects thoughtful. Jurrasic Park proved that hyper realistic effects were possible. Suddenly everything had to have CGI. Jumanji was no different but they used the effects to develop the story and not to show off technology. Nearly every review I’ve read points out the hoaky effects but they forget that Jumanji is about a game. The animals shouldn’t look real. The movie is also notable because Robin Williams isn’t entirely annoying. Thanks for sticking up for a fun and decent movie.

  3. Thanks for the comment, but I would be careful with the “they missed the point” line of reasoning. They thought differently than you or I, but that doesn’t mean they missed the point.

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