So, apparently in 1995, the Jumanji board game (from the original movie, unseen by me) was left onto a beach, where it got scooped up and brought home a year later. Now, in the present day, we have four mismatched teens who find themselves in detention for different and even kind of hilarious reasons. We have Spencer and Fridge. Spencer has been doing Fridge an unrequited favour in doing his homework. Rich girl Bethany sees her phone as something she can't live without and doesn't see the problem in disruption, and Martha is an outsider who just doesn't see the point in participating in Gym class. When they're in detention together, they come across a game they'd never heard of that at first glance looks like it was a test for the transition from NES to SNES that was Rated E to sell more. And they end up in the game as the avatars they picked. Spencer gets Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Fridge gets Franklin Finbar (Kevin Hart), Martha gets Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), and Bethany gets Dr. Shelly Oberon aka Sheldon (Jack Black).
These sort of films give adults the right to act like kids and not seem stupid. Who would've thought we'd see Dwayne Johnson a little bit wimpy yet still completely his badass and happy self? And never mind whatever deity is reeking the world. We get to see Jack Black playing Bethany, and he has more fun than I've ever seen him play a role before, and it takes some great moxie to say all the lines Black says. Johnson and Hart bring the same charisma and dopiness they brought to Central Intelligence together and Karen Gillan brings the awkwardness of the same character, satirizing the fact she's basically wearing a bikini in the jungle and hating it. Something I feel most video games sadly lack is interesting characters. Don't worry, I've played lots that do have great characters. I'm thinking primarily about Call of Duty. This universe is in sets made from Hollywood, but the cast allows us to have zany fun being in the world. But it doesn't go so fast that we miss the lovely tribute to the late Robin Williams who was the star of the original film. Some people were hesitant when it was announced right after he took his own life that a sequel would be in the works. Hopefully people see this movie and like it enough.
It also brings messages that feel sincere, but not spoon-fed down your throat. There are themes of friendship and the best way to be yourself, and even some realistic fear about the world outside and inside the Jumanji world. When it comes to the characters losing lives, I was always excited to see if or if not they'd survive a situation and once or twice I was even worried not all of them would get out of the game. Also, I was a little worried Bethany would be a bit stereotyping of teenage girls, but the truth is, Spencer isn't the buffest (sort of) and bravest person out there, and Martha is like the Allison Reynolds of the club, and there are boys out there as attached to their phones as she is. Because everyone in here really does feel like they have a personality (minus the repetitious avatars, you'll know what I mean) it didn't bother me in the end.
Now, the movie has two iffy problems. One is there's an incident involving Fridge that I felt wasn't given enough confliction. For what Spencer's forced to do, there could've been more talking between the two. Also, one of the character has a weakness to mosquitoes. Literally getting bit by one erases an entire life, and considering how long this person's in the game and where he goes, I found that weakness unrealistic. But this is the most rewatchable movie of 2017. The fact that it delivers a non-stop thrill ride with comedy that really works is reward enough. Bring all your friends, whether they're teens or adults or parents or seniors and they'll all have a great time.