It’s my absolute favourite Sunday afternoon movie.
I don’t know what draws me to the movie Jumanji, but every time I see that it is on TV I feel the need to switch over to it. I’m like the kids in the film when they hear those tribal drums guiding them to the board game!
What It’s About
Jumanji was released in 1995 and directed by Joe Johnston. It is an adaptation of the 1981 children’s book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg who also wrote The Polar Express and Zathura. It stars Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, Kirsten Dunst, Bradley Pierce, David Alan Grier, Jonathan Hyde, and Bebe Neuwirth.
It’s just one of my favourite movies. It’s a true family classic and it is a shame that they have made a sequel/reboot of this great story. I remember going to the cinema when this movie came out because, yes, I’m a 90s kid!
But can it really be the 90s greatest movie? Yes it could be. I’m not joking here people.
We start off in 1869 and witness two children burying a chest. Then a century later we cut to 1969 where a young Alan Parrish (Adam Hann-Byrd) is being pursued by your typical gang of all-American bullies led by Billy Jessop. The kind of bullies that would push you in front of a moving truck for fun. I’m very surprised the ring leader isn’t wearing a black leather jacket and carrying a flick knife.
These bullies are so bad-ass they follow our young hero Alan to his fathers shoe factory where they smash up his bike in full view of everyone in the staff car park and still say they will get him when he comes back out.
What’s With That Nike Air Max 2 Ripoff?
While taking refuge in Parrish Shoe Factory, Carl (played by David Alan Grier) shows Alan his brand new cross trainer prototype, which looks like suspiciously like a 90s Nike Air Max 2 Charles Barkley, but bearing in mind we are still in 1969. Was this clever product placement or was Carl a true visionary or even a time-traveller?
Not paying attention, Alan leaves the sneaker prototype on the conveyor belt and it goes on to get destroyed and also jam one of the machines.
Alan, being a jerk let’s Carl take the blame and which gets him fired. Carl must be gutted. His futuristic sneaker prototype now will never go into production. It would have revolutionised the sports trainer industry over night and even pre-date Nike themselves. Not to mention this great sneaker invention would have made Carl very, very rich.
Alan’s Dad is a Right Bastard
Alan’s dad Mr. Sam Parrish (played by Jonathan Hyde) is unimpressed that Alan is being bullied and tells him to man the f**k up and stand up to them. He wasn’t even pissed off that they had trashed his sons bike. Yes, Alan why don’t you stand up to a gang of kids all by yourself. Mr Parrish your son is reaching out to you – you shit!
Alan then goes outside and takes a beating from the bullies right in in the company car park and Billy Jessop tells Alan to stay away from his girlfriend and then steals Alan’s bike.
Those Drums Are Calling
After the bullies bash him around a bit Alan hears those tribal drums. It’s either that or he’s got serious damage to his ears after that beating. The drums lead Alan to a construction site. On the site he manages to find the chest, open it and take out the board game while nobody at all on this construction gives a shit except for one worker who nearly makes an effort, but doesn’t. He takes the game home and gives it a go. Like you do!
At home his dad says he is proud of him for standing up to the bullies even though he was outnumbered, oh and he’s being shipped off to a fancy boys school for jerks. They both argue and Alan says he will never speak to him again. His Mother and Father then have to go to some fancy event and leave Alan all on his own.
Later that evening Sarah Whittle (Laura Bell Bundy) comes around to bring the bike back (not a euphemism!) and Alan pulls out all the stops. He invites Sarah in to play the Jumanji board game. He’s one smooth operator.
They play the board game for a bit until Alan spoils the fun by getting sucked right inside it. I hate it when that happens!
Alan Goes Missing
Obviously they never found Alan. When a child goes missing in a small town it really does have a knock on effect. Parrish Shoes provided a service and jobs for the whole town so if it goes tits up it affects everyone.
We find out that Mr Parrish actually did care for his son after all because he abandoned his shoe business and spent the rest of his life and money to look for him. We now see that Parrish shoes is an empty shell and more dead and derelict than a Spirograph factory. Me = Sad face!
Just Somebody Roll the Goddamn Dice!
The whole film and 26 years of pure shit and suffering for Alan and his family could have all been avoided if somebody had just rolled a five or eight with those dice. Just saying!
Fast Forward to 1995
We fast forward 26 years to 1995 where Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter Shepherd (Bradley Pierce) move into the vacant Parrish mansion with their Aunt Nora (Bebe Neuwirth), after their parents died in an accident on a ski trip in Canada. They too hear the tribal drums and find the game in the attic and start playing it, unleashing the jungle chaos and also Alan.
Robin Williams Doesn’t Appear for Nearly 30 Minutes!
Finally, the main star of Jumanji actually makes an appearance on-screen 28 minutes into the movie. He makes up for this by appearing like some kind of crazy wild man, running around the house. Classic Williams!
Not only do Alan and the kids seem to easily track down an adult Sarah Whittle (Bonnie Hunt) in an instance, but she seems to live at the same address where she grew up. Surely she would have gone mad after seeing young Alan sucked into the board game and she was chased down the street by a colony of bats!
After Alan reveals himself she faints and Alan carries her motionless body back to his house without being questioned.
So, Where Did the Board Game Originate From?
There is no explanation as to where this mysterious board game come from or who created it and how the hell does it have this amazing power? MB Games or Mattel?
What we do know is that the name Jumanji actually means ‘many effects’ in Zulu. I bet you didn’t know that?
There isn’t much to the actual gameplay of Jumanji and Alan only seems to roll the dice four times over the entire movie. Basically, if you just sit tight, manage to avoid all the jungle chaos that the board game throws at you and keep rolling them dice you can finish the game pretty quickly. You can then wait until next Christmas when the whole family comes around to have another go on it!
Okay, Let’s Talk About Those Ropey Special Effects
Jumanji had a huge special effects budget of $50 million and was made with a mixture of CGI created by Industrial Light and Magic and animotronics. The CGI effects are pretty good especially the stampede scenes, but are let down by the ropey looking ginger monkeys and plastic looking spiders.
Carl the Cop
After being fired by Mr Parrish, Carl joins the police force and becomes the most tolerant police officer there is. He gets his car stolen by gun wielding monkeys, he gets shot at and his car shot up by Van Pelt the hunter, handcuffed to his car by Alan, who then kidnaps him. He witnesses monkeys riding a police motorcycle. His police car also crashed into the hardware store and then it’s eaten by a giant meat-eating plant. He then gets washed down the street on a door raft chased by a crocodile from the water that gushed out of the old Parrish place. This is right after he tells Aunt Nora he’s always wanted to kick someone’s front door in and that’s not a euphemism either! It’s all in a days work for Carl!
Peter Breaks Through the Fourth Wall
There is a moment when Peter goes to fetch an axe from the shed, but can’t get into it because it’s locked. He uses the axe that is leaning against the shed to break the chain and then realises he’s already got the axe. He glances to the camera with a “what am I like?” expression.
Van Pelt – The Crazy Safari Hunter
If you hadn’t noticed, the Van Pelt hunter character is played by the same actor who plays Mr. Parrish. It makes you wonder if Alan’s mind has created this character based on his dad! He’s much more of a bastard than Sam Parrish though.
There’s a scene where he runs out of ammo and goes to the nearest gun shop and purchases a gun without having to sign any paperwork, all because he had some gold coins on him. The gun shop owner then says “If anyone asks, you didn’t get it from here!” That’s some great gun control USA!
Alan and Sarah go back to 1969, but still remember all the shit that had happened. This means they have lived an extra 26 years of their lives. They must be mentally exhausted.
Alan admits to his dad that it was him that broke the factory machine and not Carl and he gets his job back. Alan and his dad reconcile and he doesn’t have to go the fancy boys school for jerks. Alan and Sarah then dump the board game in the river ready for the next suckers to find it.
We then jump back to present day where Alan now runs the factory and is married to Sarah and they miraculously hire Peter and Judy’s dad to work for them and avert their fatal ski trip. It’s a happy ending for all!