Review Roundup: Did Critics Roar For The Rock & Kevin Hart-Led JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE?
For two decades it went untouched. But the game always finds a way. JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE hits theaters tomorrow December 20th.
JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas and Bobby Cannavale. Based on the book Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg, the film is directed by Jake Kasdan from a screenplay by Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner.
Synopsis: In the brand new adventure JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, the tables are turned as four teenagers in detention are sucked into the world of Jumanji. When they discover an old video game console with a game they've never heard of, they are immediately thrust into the game's jungle setting, into the bodies of their avatars, played by Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan. What they discover is that you don't just play Jumanji -Jumanji plays you. They'll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, or they'll be stuck in the game forever.
See what critics have to say about the film below!
Glenn Kenny, The New York Times: "Their adventure often asks, "What would Steven Spielberg do?" It then answers poorly. (The movie's director, Jake Kasdan, happens to be THE SON of Lawrence Kasdan, who worked as a screenwriter with Mr. Spielberg on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.) The performances by Mr. Johnson, Mr. Hart and Mr. Black seem informed by the conviction that if they amuse themselves, they will also amuse others. They are not entirely wrong, but they are also not sufficiently right. Ms. Gillan, the lesser-known quantity of the group, has to work harder as the geeky teen comes to enjoy living, even if temporarily, in a bombshell adult package. She does commendable work both satirizing, and also fulfilling, a sexist conception."
John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter: "Structuring its challenges in the level-by-level mode familiar to gamers, the movie's action has a much more ordinary feel than that of the earlier picture. But while each stage of their quest seems like it would make for a pretty easy-to-beat video game, the action suffices in big-screen terms.The film's main appeal is in watching familiar actors pretend to be ordinary kids grappling with their new selves. Johnson is predictably charming, imagining himself as a kid suddenly blessed not just with a spectacular physique but a superpower defined as "smoldering intensity." And Black gets the expected kind of laughs as he mimics THE VOICE and gestures of a mean girl who recoils at being stuck in this unbangable bod but is then, I don't know, kind of fascinated to have a penis? Gillan and Hart more than hold up their end of things, and while the choice of music could be much better, Ruby Roundhouse's demonstrations of her "dance fighting" skills are crowd-pleasing."
Owen Gleiberman, Variety: "Excitement! Suspense! Childlike innocence! Ingeniously staged action set pieces! These are a few of the things you will not find, anywhere, in JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE. THE ONE performer in the film who establishes his own relaxed rhythm, and stays in it, is Nick Jonas, proving once again that he's got quick-draw acting chops. The movie has snakes and a crocodile pit and a SCORPION slithering out of Bobby Cannavale's mouth. It's supposed to be a video-ized board game come to life, but really, it's just a bored game."
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly: "The underlying message of the film is that you can't judge a book by its cover. That these reluctant partners have to work through their differences and become a team. It's hard to argue with something as well-intentioned as that. But it's fairly banal, and nothing you haven't seen (done better) a thousand times before, minus the giant CGI hippos and marauding elephants. Whenever the movie tiptoes up to actually being deeper and funnier and more clever than that, it seems to lose its nerve and doubles down on anvil-to-the-skull slapstick. WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE isn't a bad movie. It's a diverting, mildly amusing, competent bit of big-budget studio product. And maybe those are the STAKES we're now playing for these days. But in the process it manages to pull off something I once would have thought was impossible: It makes the original JUMANJI look like a beloved cinema classic. C."
Ethan Sacks, New York Daily News: "With Johnson climbing helicopters, dodging panthers and punching out thugs, the movie is at its most fun when its moving quickly. And the movie is indeed fun. Between Hart's exasperation and Black's high school girl schtick, there is plenty of goofy humor. Between the occasional penis joke and Gillan's skimpy costume, though, it's not clear what age group the movie is targeting. With its video game upgrade, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE manages to match the silly fun of its predecessor - even without Williams - and that's no small achievement unlocked."
Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press: "How can you argue with a bunch of movie stars acting goofy and hawking a "believe in yourself" message? There are some odd beats and choices, especially around Gillan's Martha, who is costumed in nearly nothing (surely as a send up of what female characters usually wear in video games, but however meta it might have been intended to be, it is still literally her costume). There's also a plot line that hinges on her learning how to flirt from Bethany (because they all decide that flirting with the bad guy security guards is the only way they can get past them). Maybe it's all in good fun, or maybe one of the four credited screenwriters could have been a woman. But JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE probably doesn't warrant that much scrutiny. Its surface pleasures are strong enough for a fun holiday afternoon at the movies."
Dave White, TheWrap: "But this isn't the place for any deeper consideration of adolescent self-sabotage or an investigation of what it means for the dangerous outside world to eat you up and spit you out; a happy ending must be delivered, one that swaps true feeling for a jokey WIZARD OF OZ reference. That's OK. Sometimes there's a place for a comforting game where, no matter how badly you play, you don't wind up doomed."
David Ehrlich, indieWire: "A semi-related sequel to a 1996 kids movie that exactly zero human beings have watched since the death of VHS, the mildly amusing JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE is further proof that even the stalest whiff of brand recognition has become preferable to originality...The FREAKY FRIDAY of it all goes a long way towards distracting from a straightforward story full of stale action beats, and director Jake Kasdan (WALK HARD) is clearly a lot more comfortable with improv comedy than he is with large-scale CG. WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE is at its most fun in the moments when it leans into the video game nature of its reality, assigning each of its characters three "lives" and amusingly adhering to the rules and limitations of an old-fashioned side-scroller. To borrow a phrase from Buzzfeed, there are gags here that only '90s kids might get. On the other hand, people of all ages can enjoy whatever the hell Bobby Cannavale is doing in his glorified cameo as the villainous John Hardin, whose ability to vomit scorpions is a lot scarier than his name."
Photo Credit: JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE Official Facebook Page