It’s been 17 years since Jumanji hit theaters in 1995, and since then it’s stayed in the minds of many then-children as one of the most memorable films from the 90s. Hypable is taking a second-look at the film, to reconsider if it’s still up to the same high standard we remember.
I have a personal love for Jumanji. A week before my 7th birthday in 1996, I had my tonsils taken out and missed school for five days. Jumanji had just been released on VHS, so my mom bought the film to keep me occupied while I was at home recovering. Not having seen it in theaters, I was immediately sucked in (pun intended) and viewed it non-stop on repeat for the entire week. Now a 23-year-old, I cozied up on the couch while Hurricane Sandy hit to re-watch this childhood favorite.
My first and biggest impression: Wow, those monkeys seemed a lot more realistic and scary when I was 7 than they do now. However, if the movie was re-done today, I’m sure Jumanji could evoke a more realistic depiction of the monkeys solely due to improved technological capabilities. The vines and plants that take over the house were also extremely cheesy - especially “The Big Yellow One” that almost eats Peter – but again, I’m just going to blame this on the technological advancements over the span of 17 years.
I was surprisingly impressed with the acting and (most of) the writing. Robin Williams and Bonnie Hunt played off of each other very nicely – but if you aren’t normally a fan of Williams, this is not a film I would recommend watching due to his eccentric (read: hilarious and awesome, in my opinion) acting. I was taken aback with Kirsten Dunst’s abilities portraying a sarcastic and witty pre-teen. The many one-liners were remarkable and very hilarious, and I’m now so happy I’m able to pick up on them as an adult. Also, has anyone else noticed that the hunter chasing Robin Williams is being played by the same actor (Jonathan Hyde) that portrayed his father? Yeah. Placing Hyde in both roles further emphasizes the burden Alan carried to take over his father’s company, and was a brilliant decision whomever made it.
There is one huge problem that I never before realized: Do Sarah and Alan simply “forget” what happened after they go back to 1969 at the end of the film? Sarah says at the end of the film: “I want to do something before I forget too much what it feels like to be an adult,” and then kisses Alan. After growing up, going through puberty, and being an adult for some time, do they resort back to their adolescent mindset and re-grow up, mentally? Overtime, will their lives feel infinitely longer because they’re living out the same 26 years of their lives twice? In two different paths? It’s not incredibly clear what the audience is expected to understand – but we do know that they don’t forget the game and what happened, as they see/re-meet Judy and Peter at the end of the film with their parents.
|Considering the fact it’s a children’s/family film, it is actually a pretty terrifying film for that genre. The entire re-watch my mother kept saying “I CANNOT believe I let you watch this when you were 7! On repeat for an entire week!”|
My mom also told me that I once asked my grandma to watch the film with me. She was excited because it meant she could take a nap for 90 minutes – instead, because Jumanji was so face-paced and intense, my grandma was glued to the TV the entire time and couldn’t stop watching. The stampedes, seeing Robin Williams run around a house in jungle leaves, a bounty hunter trying to kill Williams, an indoor monsoon, and The World’s Most Intimidating Father are only a few of the scariest elements of the film. While I am not frightened of these elements anymore as an adult, I still found the film to be very intense and hilarious. Jumanji is still just as awesome, for different reasons, from what I remembered.