Jumanji is the perfect example of a ‘90s film, with a lot of flaws in terms of technical side as well as the story. Yet the film is so entertaining that you won’t make a second comparison.
After watching all the perfect films of the 2010s, Jumanji might look mediocre. But to me, the film is a timeless classic. Not the making as such, but, due to the nostalgic sentiment associated with it. 🙂 I was 5 years old when I saw Jumanji for the first time, in VCD. I was intrigued by the visuals, the humor and became a fan of Robin Williams instantly. Watching this film again, helped in revisiting the nostalgia.
12-year-old Alan Parrish (Adam Hann Byrd) discovers a game named Jumanji in the digs near his father’s (Jonathan Hyde) factory. He takes it home and plays it with his friend Sarah (Laura Bell Bundy), as they were the only two who were ”called” by Jumanji with drums. With each roll of dice, an entity is brought to life. The game eventually, sucks Alan in and he has to wait in the jungle till the dice rolls “5” or “8”. 26 years after his disappearance, Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pearce), the new residents in his house discover the game and play it. Eventually, Alan (Robin Williams) and Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) play the game and they have to finish so that all the animals and entities will go away.
Jumanji entertains you and it is kind of film that you would like to watch over and over. There are plenty of plot holes and goofs. For eg: How come Alan speaks with the perfect American accent after being stuck in the game, the jungle, for 26 years. The house and the objects looked too good for something is left unattended. But, is there a game named Jumanji? That brings entities to life? 😀
So we could just disregard the plot holes, as the film itself is fantasy. The CGI looks unnatural during this time, after watching the likes of Pirates of the Caribbean and Avatar, but back in the ‘90s, the film was at the top of the game. What takes the cake is James Horner’s music, from the theme music to Jumanji’s jungle music with drums that gives you the creepy feel. Cinematography and editing are done in typical ‘90s style though the makers could have gone for a better font for the credits.
Robin Williams stole the show. He is a gifted actor, even if the movie is mediocre, he has the ability to make the screen look lively. He could transcend easily from drama to comedy with ease, and in this film, he gives an effortless comic performance which involves both geeky and dry humor.
He has done unforgettable moments like jumping on top of Bentley’s car when he brakes, intimidating Sarah with his story and the climax. The movie belongs to Robin in every way.
Jumanji is being remade with Dwayne Johnson in lead role. I admire Johnson’s lively presence on-screen but Robin Williams’s absence will be felt throughout the new film undoubtedly. Adam Hann Byrd is controlled but he lacks resemblance with Robin Williams and personality wise, he is completely different. Byrd delivers a very serious and long faced performance and it will be difficult to associate with Williams’s comical nature. However, Laura Bundy’s version of Sarah has resemblance with Hunt’s both in terms of appearance and dialogue delivery. Bonnie Hunt is an underrated actress and she nailed it with her squeaky humor while expressing her fearful nature and at the same Sarah, as a person, is tough during circumstances, when she comes to face with Van Pelt. I like how she tries to save Alan, particular in the climax of the film where she runs in front of Alan instantly when Van Pelt holds him at gunpoint. This is the first film of Kirsten Dunst I have watched. As a child, I remember thinking how beautiful and badass she is. Notably when she fights with giant mosquitoes and makes crucial during danger.
Exactly 6 years later, we see her in one of the most badly written roles for a woman, which unfortunately became a cult phenomenon for anti-feminists to lean on. Spiderman series. She is adorable and controlled, did a steadfast performance. Bradley Pearce could be at par with his co-stars as he is wooden in most of the scenes. If that is intended for his character then it worked but otherwise he could give been given a personality. He does his part in heroic deeds but it looks fruitless when you compare it with facial performance. Carl Bentley is the undoubtedly the best thing that could happen to this film. The scene where he screams out boyishly after seeing the alligator, after remaining awe-struck for a couple of seconds, is classic. 😀 Plus, his brand new car, gets hit, shot at, broken and ripped into pieces. We feel sorry for the car at the end. Jonathan Hyde stuck to his standard. Mr Parrish and Van Pelt, will look like two different people.
One of the best features about Jumanji as a film is the pleasant ending to Alan and Sarah’s story and overall feel of the film. The film as such is meant for kids and is a good watch for the same reasons. For me, nostalgia got the better.
Featured image: jumaniji