Jumanji (1995)
February 28, 2015 7:17 AM - Subscribe

Jumanji! When two kids find and play a magical board game, they release a man trapped for decades in it and a host of dangers that can only be stopped by finishing the game.

Based on the award-winning book by Chris van Allsburg (also known for Polar Express and many others), the film was not well received by critics. Roger Ebert gave it one and a half stars, saying, "the film is a gloomy special-effects extravaganza filled with grotesque images, generating fear and despair. Even for older audiences, there are few redeeming factors, because what little story there is serves as a coathook for the f/x sequences, which come out of nowhere and evaporate into the same place." Owen Gleiberman at EW gave it a C+, but praised the special effects. Janet Maslin liked it slightly more, saying, "it has Robin Williams and runaway special effects to recommend it," but is less into the special effects, which she calls "visual tricks that are allowed to overwhelm the movie." (She also notes that "It doesn't help that all the special effects in 'Jumanji' look comparably uninviting, from the floorboards that trap Mr. Williams's face to the fake-looking wildlife stampeding through the town. Eschewing warm, cuddly imagery just as Mr. Van Allsburg's book does, the film affects a strange, artificial style that has the invasive weirdness of "Gremlins" but none of the charm. ")

So let's talk about those effects! Here's a 1996 NYT piece about the movie magic involved. Some seem to think the effects don't hold up. But there is apparently a documentary about them!

Did you know they made an actual board game version? And here's 14 delightful things you may not have known about Jumanji. (You can see young ScarJo's audition here.)

A remake is apparently in the works.

Remembering Robin Williams: director Joe Johnston mourns Robin Williams in the middle of an interview about Star Wars. Bradley Pierce, who played Peter, opened up about his own depression after Williams' death.
posted by leesh (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is streaming on US Netflix. So much to say about this film, but basically I loved it. The effects weren't the greatest at the time but worked for me then and work for me now.

I liked how it felt like it hit a plateau emotionally after Alan got out of the Jungle and was content to wear clothes and just resume regular life. And then it felt like a new movie started when they found Sarah. Her Julia Roberts scream when they busted the game out was great.

I could have done without David Alan Grier's over the top bug eyed screaming in parts but overall I liked his presence. I hate that they have black actors do that, it's so not needed.

Aside from that, one of my favorite parts is when Peter gets sent to get the axe from the shed and runs outside only to see a padlock on the shed. That was just the best, because we've probably all had those moments where something similar happens, and you realize you're doing something pointless, and look off in acknowledgement as some imaginary audience.
posted by cashman at 3:16 PM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was arguably to old for this movie went it came out, being a teenager, but I don't fucking care ; I loved it then and love it now.

The idea of a board game that comes to life in such a way, the mixing of wildness and adventure into everyday life the metaphor of it as growing up. Loved it.

It represented so much of how I played as a young kid, stalking through the temperate rainforest and overgrown paddocks. I think it also got to me, as a small cadre of films did at that time, because it helped me process my parents divorce.

Bonus points for grim tone. I think a lot of kids movies don't appreciate how scary being a kid can be. I dunno the exhilarating chase scenes of the film also echo a lot of my favourite dreams, too.
posted by smoke at 7:45 PM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, I always thought the to show for the tone exactly right as well.
posted by smoke at 7:52 PM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

They filmed Jumanji in Keene, NH - not just the home of the Great Pumpkin Riots.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:18 PM on February 28, 2015

Surely all pumpkin riots are, by their very existence, great?
posted by smoke at 1:44 AM on March 1, 2015

Just watched this last night. The bit where the kid is looking for an ax that's locked in a shed, then picks up that very ax to start hacking the door down, then has a "what am I doing moment" is great. It's classic comedy.
posted by LegallyBread at 8:54 AM on January 16, 2017

Rewatching this in 2019 makes me think, "Holy crap, there are a LOT of guns in this movie -- and particular "guns shooting at children and in public" kinda scenes." Really don't think this would fly today.
posted by knownassociate at 11:15 AM on December 16, 2019

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