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December 22, 2017

Jumanji (1995) --- "Roll The Dice And Unleash The Wild Onto You Town."

Plot Summary
A magical board game unleashes a world of adventure on siblings Peter (Bradley Pierce) and Judy Shepherd (Kirsten Dunst). While exploring an old mansion, the youngsters find a curious, jungle-themed game called Jumanji in the attic. When they start playing, they free Alan Parrish (Robin Williams), who's been stuck in the game's inner world for decades. If they win Jumanji, the kids can free Alan for good -- but that means braving giant bugs, ill-mannered monkeys and even stampeding rhinos! (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     Among the many classic children/family films that I have enjoyed – like The Borrowers (1997), Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989), and The Labyrinth (1986) – Jumanji (1995) would be one of the top ranking films, not because it’s a brilliant masterpiece but because it’s a classic piece of entertainment that appeals to people of all ages. In Jumanji, audiences don’t have to suffer through a predictable plot and cheesy dialogue, like most family-friendly movies today. Now one must keep in mind that this film is rated PG (Parental Guidance) and not exactly meant for all ages. It’s not gory or terrifying but there are a few mildly scare scenes that some young viewers may find to be a bit scary, however, this is solely based on the child’s maturity level.

     Jumanji is loosely based on the children’s picture book of the same name by Chris Van Allsberg, who also had a hand in creating the film’s screenplay. The basic premise of the film is centered around a board game that you can’t stop playing until you finish, even if it takes you twenty years. There are twists and surprises in each turn that not only take the players on a magical and thrilling adventure but the game also defies all laws of nature itself.
     Multi-universes, physical transformations, and perceptual distortions are just a few of the theories that Jumanji disrupts with, the most obvious theory being the idea of multiple universes or parallel universes. There is one in which Jumanji is very much a part of the player’s reality and another where it is merely a dream, sometimes even considered a hallucination. In the film, Jumanji is the catalyst of fate; an evil entity that evokes fear into the hearts of the players, rather than wonder like it did in the book. But no matter how perilous the situation gets the rules state that no one can be killed, otherwise the game could never be finished which is one of its primary objectives. As a result, the game instills fear without death and allows fate to decide the players’ endgame. With each roll of the dice the characters mature and yet we cannot even being to imagine the mental agony and physical pains that they went through; first in the 1969 and then again in 1995. It is only natural that the end was initiated by the future; or more appropriately the past. I won’t spoil the ending for those who have yet to see the film but I will say that the film expands more on the concept of alternative universes. The endgame of Jumanji marks the end of that universe – everything that the game provided had to be returned – and as a result, the game’s true intentions are to not only instill fear but to also build resilience amongst the characters.
      Robin Williams (Hook, Patch Adams) as Alan Parrish, David Alan Grier (Stuart Little) as Carl Bentley, Bonnie Hunt (Cheaper by the Dozen 1 & 2) as Sarah Whittle, Kristen Dunst (Hidden Figures) as Judy Sheppard, and Bradley Pierce (The Borrowers) as Peter Sheppard were the perfect characters to go on this adventure with. Williams and Hunt have great chemistry as the adult versions of themselves, Dunst and Pierce were great as brother and sister, and Grier offered some small moments of comic relief as the primary innocent bystander. Each character had their moment to shine and as a whole, they all worked very well together.

     Overall, Jumanji (1995) is a classic piece of entertainment that should be seen by everyone at least once in their lifetime. The special effects were believable, especially for the mid-90’s, and the characters worked well together. The film touches on some interesting theories like multi-universes, physical transformations and perceptual distortions which defy all laws of nature. Now while this is a family-friendly film rated PG some young children may find a few scenes to be a bit scary, however, this is solely based on the child’s maturity level. Personally, I believe that Jumanji is a magical and thrilling adventure with great special effects and performances. So sit back and hold on for the adventure of a lifetime.

- Alan Parish

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  4.5 of 5 star
Worth Buying:  4.5 of 5 stars

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Movies Similar 
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D (2005)
Bedtime Stories (2008)
Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)
Goosebumps (2015)
Hugo (2011)
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
Monster House (2006)
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (2007)
Night at the Museum (2006)
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014)
Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
Zathura (2005)

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