Welcome to the holiday season, movie fans! As you all gather around the fire, sipping egg nog and acting all peaceful and holiday-ooogy, the movie studios of our fair land will now begin to ask for you hard earned pennies. What will you see? One of your first options is "Jumanji", starring America's favorite manic funny man, Robin Williams. Of course, "star" is a relative term, because the real stars of "Jumanji" are all the special effects animals that are thrown at the viewer every two minutes or so.
"Jumanji" does feature a truly original plot though, and has enough thrills and special effect type distractions to make it seem worthwhile. One day, frustrated young Alan Parish and his friend Sarah sit down and start playing a strange board game. Alan rolls the dice, the pieces move themselves, and poor Alan gets sucked into the game. Fast forward 26 years, and another set of kids are playing the same game. The kids roll, and "Whammo!" out pops Alan, all grown up and looking suspiciously like a bearded Robin Williams. All sorts of animals and other assorted nasties are also popping up with each roll, and the kids, Alan, and the now grown up Sarah must work to finish the game before disaster strikes.
All of this makes for an entertaining, albiet child pleasing movie. Don't look for any adult type stuff here, as director Joe Johnston has Robin Williams too busy dodging the numerous computer generated jungle creatures to "emote" a la "Awakenings". No, he's not even "Mork" here, and his role could actually have been played by practically anyone, William Shatner included.
Which is okay, because who wants a ranting Robin Williams in the middle of a two hour "rant" of a movie? Indeed, adults are pretty well criticised during "Jumanji", and with good reason. Why can't we just try to understand our kids? Why can't we try to see their side, and not drive them to play satanic board games that threaten to destroy our fine American way of life? Listen to the children, my friends, listen to the children.
Copyright 1995 John A. Lavin
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