Release year: 1995
Director: Joe Johnston
Screenwriter: Jonathan Hensleigh, Greg Taylor, Jim Strain, Chris Van Allsburg (book)
Starring: Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, Bradley Pierce, Bonnie Hunt, Bebe Neuwirth, David Alan Grier, Jonathan Hyde, Patricia Clarkson
Ratings: 2 Saturn Awards: Best Supporting Actress (Bonnie Hunt), Best Special Effects.
Alan Parrish (Adam Hann-Byrd) becomes trapped in a board game while playing with his best friend Sarah Whittle Laura Bell Bundy) in 1969. Twenty-six years later, siblings Judy (Dunst) and Peter Shepherd (Pierce) find the game, begin playing and then unwittingly release the now-adult Alan (Williams). After tracking down Sarah (Hunt), the four must finish the game in order to reverse all of the destruction it has caused.
Based on a story by the writer behind other adapted children’s book like The Polar Express (2004) and Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005), you know to expect adventure from this charming 1995 family friendly movie. Starring the late, great Williams (Mrs. Doubtfire, 1993), perfectly casted as man-child Alan, Jumanji brings the jungle and the adventure to the suburbs and sees Williams fight along kids to save the world as they know it. As the young kids, Dunst (Spider-Man, 2002), proves the talent shown in her break-through role in Interview With the Vampire (1994) wasn’t a one-of, while Pierce (The Borrowers, 1997) is equally great as her brother. With two so dominant kid roles, the movie wouldn’t have worked without genuine acting, which they luckily provide. Hunt (Jerry Maguire, 1996) gives a very emotional performance as the girl scared of the game all grown up and is a good match for Williams. The special effects where awarded at the time, but unfortunately looks dated to today’s eyes. But luckily there is enough spark in this charmingly entertaining story to keep you around despite ugly CGI monkeys and tired-looking lions. A nostalgic trip for anyone with a taste for adventure in their heart.
According to author Chris Van Allsburg, the word “jumanji” is Zulu for “many effects,” which alludes to “the exciting consequences of the game” as mentioned in the film.
Picture copyrights: Sony Pictures