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Jumanji (1995)

Cast: Robin Williams, Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, more...
Director: Joe Johnston, Joe Johnston
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Columbia TriStar
Genre: Kids, Live Action, Fantasy
Running Time: 104 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

This title is currently out of print.

Jumanji is a visually elaborate fantasy about an enchanted board game that opens a magical portal to a jungle universe. Two young children, Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce), discover the game in an abandoned home and suddenly are greeted by Alan (Robin Williams), an adult who has spent his life trapped inside the game since playing it at age 12. Alan's only hope for freedom involves finishing the game, but this proves rather dangerous, as Judy, Peter, and Alan find themselves running for their lives from huge rhinoceroses, evil monkeys, vicious lions, and other terrifying jungle beasts. Director Joe Johnston, whose special-effects background previously came to good use in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, used groundbreaking computer imagery to simulate the thrills. ~ Judd Blaise, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

It's a Jungle in There by nathan April 28, 2003 - 4:15 PM PDT
4 out of 5 members found this review helpful
In the thirteenth century, a Sanskrit scholar named Sakya pandita Kunga Gyaltsen created a boardgame called "Rebirth" based on the Buddhist conception of the cosmos. In it, players role a die and move around the board through various kinds of incarnations. The goal is to reach nirvana, though the odds are that one will continue to be reborn in less hospitable climes.

By way of the gifted creater of some of the more sophisticated "children's" books in english, Chris Van Allsburg, we now have a major Hollywood film starring Robin Williams (with nary a funny line) that centers around a boardgame that could be "Rebirth"'s distant cousin.

In Jumanji the results of a toss of the dice become a larger-than-life reality. You landed on a square in which a hunter is called upon to hunt you? It's not your symbolic playing piece that takes the bullet. It's you. And the hunter isn't some picture on a playing card. He's flesh and blood--and deadly serious. From this simple context, Jumanji chronicles the events of a single game of Jumanji. There is some weird witchcraft afoot in new England in 1969. The first role of the dice brings a swarm of bats into the room where the game is being played. The second role removes a player from gameroom and traps him inside the game, in a phantasmagorical jungle. And so on.

A very interesting concept, Jumanji has trouble working as a film. It's too frightening to be a "kids" movie. At the same time, it refuses to pursue the truly creepy character of the material and settles into episodes of generic Hollywoodisms. Was that car chase lifted from Smokey and the Bandit? But the story is intriguing and the plot ripe with metaphoric implications.

Once begun, the players lives are ruled by "random" rolls of the dice. They must continue to play or be trapped forever by monsters they have unleashed by their initial curiosity. How much of our "real" lives are similarly ruled by events we have as much control over as we have over a role of a pair of dice? And to what extent are our lives played out like a game of Jumanji? Begun perhaps through curiosity or boredom (or naivete or politeness or ?), we enter so many of life's interactions somewhat blindly. Yet, as in Jumanji, our every engagement may promise endless, largely unfathomable repurcussions -- until we have no choice but to participate in horrific situations that we have unwittingly created.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 5.57)
99 Votes
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