Jumanji is Loads of Fun: My Review of Dwayne Johnson's 2017 Action Movie

Back in December 2017, while my wife and I were taking a few vacation days in Myrtle Beach, SC, we decided to see the movie Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. A remake of the mid-1990s movie which starred Robin Williams, this Jumanji stars Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson and is directed by Jake Kasdan.

The movie opens with a New Hampshire teenager named Alex coming into possession of a board game called (you guessed it) Jumanji. That night, it mysteriously transforms into a video game cartridge. When Alex starts playing, he is sucked into the game.

Years later, four students at Brantford (NH) High School receive detention for various offenses. They come across the same game and (like Alex) find themselves pulled inside. They land in a jungle as their game avatars - each with three game lives and various strengths and weaknesses. Well, all except Dr. Smolder Bravestone. He has no weaknesses.

Jumanji is an enjoyable fantasy actioner. David Edelstein, writing for Vulture, calls it "good, clean fun" with "self-empowering life lessons." That said, some of my Christian readers may take issue with the adjective "clean" given some of the language, sexual innuendo, urination jokes, and the amount of skin Karen Gillan shows. (Even some non-Christians objected to the latter issue). For a more thorough review from a Christian perspective, I recommend Focus on the Family's PluggedIn review. The truth is, the movie earns its PG-13 rating. In my opinion, it would've been even better had it been content with a PG rating. Still, it's loads of fun. My wife and I definitely enjoyed it.

Jumanji's concept of real-life characters being trapped in a game is of course the basis of the GameLit subgenre. It's a genre that hasn't seen a lot of action on the Big Screen, except (sort of) Tron, a few bad Dungeons & Dragons movies, and (most recently) Ready Player One (which was first a book). GameLit has now blossomed into an incredibly rich subgenre with multiple titles.

Even if you're not into the whole characters-in-a-game concept, Jumanji does well on its own merit. It's full of action, adventure, drama, and comedy. Thus, if you like action movies with healthy doses of comedy, Jumanji is right up your alley. Definitely recommended. 

Jumanji is rated PG-13 and is now available on video and on-demand.

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