Why the ‘Jumanji’ Reboot Will Be Better Than You Might Think

Matthew Loffhagen
Sony Pictures
(Photo: Sony Pictures)

Have you seen the new trailer for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle yet?

If not, have a look, but be warned – this isn’t anything like what you’ve seen before. You’ll need to put thoughts of Robin Williams and baby Kirsten Dunst as far out of your head as possible.

Okay, ready? Here we go:

Um, yeah.

So that’s not exactly Jumanji, is it? It’s not even Zathura. It seems that, for the sake of drumming up support for a new movie, the producers have slapped a familiar name onto this project in the hopes that nobody will notice.

Well, we definitely noticed. Bad job, guys, you lose at movie producing.

We also probably need to talk about how this is the second supernatural Breakfast Club movie we’ll be getting this year. First was Power Rangers which didn’t exactly light any fires under audiences, and which also attempted to give us an ethnically diverse group of teenagers earning special powers while in detention.

Now, apparently, we’re back here again, and it’s hard not to suspect that this is the result of a group of writers hanging out somewhere in Hollywood a year or so ago, watching The Breakfast Club, and playing a weird game where they tried to turn it into a magical adventure film.

But do you know what? For all that this definitely isn’t Jumanji, and is a little awkward in its similarities to a bad Lionsgate movie, Welcome to the Jungle actually has the potential to be pretty great.

Considering the set-up here, it’s hard not to think that a Dungeons & Dragons style premise would have worked better than a video game, but hey, we’ll let that slide. We’ve seen the whole “entering a video game” concept in movies before, and in this case it’s just a bridge that gets us to the fun story. What’s really unique here is the fun group of characters, portrayed by actors who are known, one and all, for playing outrageous roles.

Jack Black Jumanji
Source: Sony Pictures

Sure, Dwayne Johnson gets most of the attention here solely for being himself, but the idea of Jack Black playing a vapid teenage girl is a stroke of genius.

You could almost take this movie as a metaphor for puberty, as a group of teenagers find themselves struggling with changes that have occurred in their bodies. We’ll give the movie a very suspicious sideways glance for its use of Karen Gillan’s midriff (it’s attempting to mock video game tropes as an excuse to show some pale ginger flesh), but even from this short trailer it’s clear that the characters are well-defined enough to be enjoyable as they discover (much to their annoyance) that they’re no longer in their own skin.

Karen Gillan Jumanji
Source: Sony Pictures

Based on what we’ve seen thus far, it’s probably worth cutting all associations with the original Jumanji in your mind. This is not that movie, not even close.

Once you get past the anger and frustration of seeing a movie studio blatantly trying to manipulate your childhood nostalgia to sell more movie tickets, though, there’s a good chance that this might well be a solid, enjoyable action comedy.

Not better than Jumanji, but then, nobody really expected that to begin with!

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