There are two things you need to know about me that relate to what you’re about to read. The first thing is that I’m a millennial, which means I came of age in the ’90s and thus hold all things ’90s-related quite near and dear to my heart. This feeds directly into the second bit of crucial information: I freaking love Robin Williams. My love for Williams is deeply embedded thanks to the movies he made during the ’90s, like the rousing adventure film Jumanji.
This movie, which is about a supernatural board game that brings together a man (Alan Parrish) who’s been trapped inside it, his childhood crush (Sarah), and two adolescents (siblings Judy and Peter), captivated me as a kid. I dang near wore out my VHS copy of Jumanji in the mid-’90s (how’s that for a throwback?) because I would get so wrapped up in watching Alan warn the group about a stampede coming through the library or Judy and Peter use their ’90s ingenuity to defeat a poacher from the game inside a home and sporting goods store. The music was thrilling, the suspense was tautly drawn and yes, it has Robin freaking Williams.
So, imagine just how dejected I got when I first caught wind of a sequel (a sequel? Really?!) to Jumanji with Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart leading it. “This is just perfect,” I thought. “Budget Laurel and Hardy are coming in to muck with the memory of a damn near perfect film.” Imagine the sheer annoyance I felt when I learned that Jumanji would no longer be a board game — although the board game kinda-sorta exists in the beginning of the film — but would be transformed into a video game that would suck our four unlikely heroes into it. Excuse me? Oh, and don’t even get me started on actor Karen Gillan’s deeply stupid costume for this film. I don’t care if it gets made fun of in the film. It’s dumb.
I’m sorry, but last I checked, there was no pressing need for a Jumanji sequel. There were never droves of people taking to the street, shouting “More Jumanji! I must have more Jumanji… or else!” while wailing and tearing their hair out. There was no clamor for more story, no outcry, no wheedling questions burrowing their way into our subconscious minds, driving us into madness as we demanded to know the answers. No. Never. So, why does this sequel exist? Why was it made? We were doing perfectly fine replaying our VHS copies of it, thank you very much.
Much like an incredulous Alan Parrish, suddenly spat out of a board game and totally unaware of what year it is, in the name of all that is good and right in this world I, a dazed and bewildered Jumanji fan, must reject whatever nonsense has now hit theaters. I cannot in good faith give my money to something called Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, where there are only Easter eggs and slight homages to the original film but, for some reason, I’m forced to endure “jokes” like Jack Black playing the Jumanji avatar of a self-obsessed high school girl and hear how Hart’s character has a weakness for… cake? Really, bro? Cake?
I don’t care if it feels like Welcome to the Jungle is reinventing the story and adapting it for a new generation. That younger generation should have been introduced to the original, not this imposter version which, incidentally, relies on the mythology of the original to really make an impact, seeing as it’s a sequel and all. Sure, you can appreciate Welcome to the Jungle on its own, but the fatal flaw is that it is built on a world and a mythology already established in a film and a book.
So, again, why did Welcome to the Jungle need to be made? Aside from the fact that the film is a blatant cash grab from a studio seeking to capitalize on the charming, cheeky bro-chemistry of Johnson and Hart, there’s genuinely no reason for it to exist. And, not for nothin’, I’m sure there’s plenty of interesting original scripts that got passed over to make this nonsense. So, there’s that.
I’ll end this essay on a bold yet deeply sincere statement: Boycott Welcome to the Jungle, brush the dust off your Jumanji VHS and pop it into your VCR. You can thank me later.