Jumanji – Finding a mysterious board game, Alan Parrish and friend, Sarah Whittle, begin playing but, discovering the terrible truth of its magical powers, Alan is sucked into the game and Sarah is forced to flee. Twenty six years later, orphaned siblings Judy and Peter find it in their new house and start playing. After accidentally summoning huge mosquitoes and monkeys, Alan, now a grown man, is finally released from his jungle prison. He and Sarah reluctantly agree to continue to play in order to stop the devastation around them but with every roll of the dice bringing more danger, will they ever be able to finish it?

Jumanji (1995) – Director: Joe Johnston

Is Jumanji appropriate for kids?

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Rating: PG

Running Length: 104 mins

Starring: Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, Kirsten Dunst, Bradley Pierce

Genre: Fantasy, Comedy, Action/Adventure

REVIEW: ‘JUMANJI’

Classic and iconic, ‘Jumanji’ is still considered one of the most original family movies to grace our screens and many will be shocked to realise that this beloved movie was released over two decades ago. Although others have tried to copy its formula (for example ‘Zathura‘) it still stands head and shoulders above its imitators.

Many of the effects haven’t aged too well and after a great scene relying purely on the acting of those on-screen it often jars to see a cartoony monkey driving a police car! However, the animatronics used are wonderfully vibrant so effects like the impressive (but underused) lion go a long way to make up for its other visual shortcomings. Although there isn’t a huge amount of character progression which could spoil a light-hearted family film, there is enough there to explain the motivations of the characters. Alan and Sarah especially have nuances that will go over the heads of kids but will give adults an additional layer of depth to enjoy and, as ever, Robin Williams can convey a huge depth of emotion by expression alone.

‘Jumanji’ may show its age with its special effects but this is a fantastic family movie which has so much going for it, not least for the performance of the late Robin Williams who wasn’t just his typical ‘joker’ persona. He believably portrays someone who has been through unimaginable trauma while remaining approachable and kind and Bonnie Hunt, who plays Sarah, also has her own trauma to deal with which has resulted in neuroses and mental illness (although again this never becomes too much for kids to have to deal with). ‘Jumanji’ is right to hold its place as a classic and its non-topical originality ensures it will remain as such for at least the next generation of kids.

CONTENT: IS ‘JUMANJI’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

We first meet Alan as a young boy and he is chased by bullies; they shout ‘Get him!’ and, ‘Prepare to die Parrish!’. Seeking sanctuary in the safety of his father’s factory, he sees the boys having fun while damaging his bike outside. Having to leave, Alan faces the bullies but he is vastly outnumbered. The camera pans to behind a stone as the bullies move in on Alan and afterwards, Alan is seen with a black eye and there is some blood from a cut on his lip.

When they begin playing Jumanji, the scene is very ominous. Alan and Sarah are alone in the house and the musical score adds an additional layer or tension. After Alan takes his turn, his fingers start to be sucked into the game, he cries out in distress and his whole body gets pulled in. Sarah then gets attacked by a swarm of bats, she screams in terror, especially when one lands on her back; there is a close up of its face as it screeches at her.

Because Alan disappeared and no-one believed Sarah’s story, rumours abound over the boy’s fate. One main theory is that Alan’s father killed him. A man tells two children ‘There are a thousand and one places they could have hidden the body, especially if he chopped it up first’.

When Alan returns home, he runs around excited to see his parents but soon finds that they are no longer living in his old house. Desperate to find them, he looks around the town, eventually finding someone who knows what happened to them. Alan is pointed in the direction of a graveyard where he stands in front of their graves. This is quite sad but not overdone so as to be distressing.

A huge mosquito attacks three characters in a car. They are very scared, especially when the insect starts stabbing through the roof and then attempts to stab through the window. One of the characters accidentally opens the sunroof which would allow the mosquito to get in but another character manages to drive the car away from danger.

Alan tells of his time in the jungle and how terrifying it is, he says ‘I’ve seen things you can’t even imagine…things that hunt you in the night, then something screams and you hear them eat and you hope to God you’re not dessert’.

One of the turns taken by the players summons huge spiders that attack. Two characters are stuck in place and are unable to defend themselves and narrowly escape a potentially lethal bite. There is a close-up of one of the spiders and its large fangs can be seen moving as it approaches one of the characters.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?
VERDICT: IS ‘JUMANJI’ FOR KIDS?

‘Jumanji’ broke ground with its originality and its fun characters and exciting, action-packed plot will keep audiences watching it again and again. Due to a few scary scenes, we recommend ‘Jumanji’ for kids aged 6 and over.

  • Violence: 2/5 (mostly slapstick in nature)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (the scenes where adult Peter realises the world has moved on without him are quite sad)
  • Fear Factor: 2/5 (some protracted moments of tension and scares)
  • Sexual Content: 0/5
  • Bad Language: 1/5 (some mild blasphemy)
  • Dialogue: 2/5
  • Other Notes: Deals with themes of the misunderstanding between a child and their parent, childhood curiosity, second chances, seeing a dangerous task through to completion, putting others before yourself, a child not being believed when going through a traumatic, confusing ordeal, black magic, the effects of a child disappearing, not living up to your potential and dealing with other people’s expectations.

Words by Laura Record

 

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