Jumanji (1995)

jumanji poster 1995 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Fun for kids

So-so story that feels episodic

Movie Info

Movie Name: Jumanji

Studio: TriStar Pictures

Genre(s): Action/Adventure/Family

Release Date(s): December 15, 1995

MPAA Rating: PG

jumanji board game kirsten dunst bradley pierce

Can’t we just play AD&D?

Alan Parrish (Adam Hann-Byrd) disappeared from his home in the 1960s, and everyone believed he had run away or been killed.  When Nora Shepherd (Bebe Neuwirth) and her orphaned niece and nephew Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) move into the Parrish house, the discovery of a board game named Jumanji leads to the return of Alan Parrish (Robin Williams) as an adult.  Jumanji has been awakened and now Peter, Judy, Alan, and Alan’s childhood friend Sarah Whittle (Bonnie Hunt) must finish the game they started…or the town of Brantford could be destroyed!

Directed by Joe Johnston, Jumanji is a family action-adventure film.  The movie adapts the 1981 Chris Van Allsburg award winning children’s book.  The film received average to positive reviews and was a box office success.

I was too old for Jumanji when it was released, but I think I ended up seeing it on replay in college.  It was as I expected.  It was a movie I might have enjoyed as a kid but tedious at points as an adult.

jumanji monkey boy bradley pierce

My Monkeybone audition is going great!

The movie has a rather intriguing set-up which is both interesting and terrifying.  The portion of the film set in the 1960s which has Robin Williams’ character sucked into the game and believed to be murdered is dark.  It then turns into a goofy chase movie with the hunter and various animals that just hop all over the screen.  It rounds out with a bizarre time travel-esque storyline that leads to an odd ending that doesn’t feel entirely satisfying.

Robin Williams is at his most Robin Williams-esque.  He rages from manic, to terse, to tender.  There is a bit of a Hook carry-over theme for his character.  Bonnie Hunt is a nice pairing for him since she’s really straight laced.  The movie is one of Kirsten Dunst’s early roles and Bradley Pierce is ok as a typical child actor.  It is odd to see Bebe Neuwirth as the mentoring character, and David Alan Grier and Patricia Clarkson have small roles.  Jonathan Hyde has a dual role as Williams’ father and the crazed hunter Van Pelt.

jumanji robin williams bonnie hunt

The “floor is quicksand” game just more exciting…good thing it wasn’t lava

The visuals for Jumanji were pretty good at the time of its release, but the movie hasn’t aged well.  The special effects for the spiders, monkeys, bats, alligator, and lion are a combination of digital effects and practical effects.  The practical effects don’t mesh well with the digital effects and the digital effects don’t even stand close to today’s looks.

Jumanji will hold nostalgia for viewers who enjoyed it in their childhood.  I find the movie a little slow and tedious as it randomly jumps from “roll to roll”.  The movie was followed by a similar themed film in Zathura:  A Space Adventure in 2005 with a game which takes children to space.  Jumanji resurfaced in 2017 with Jumanji:  Welcome to the Jungle starring Dwayne Johnson.

Related Links:

Zathura:  A Space Adventure (2005)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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