About:

Title: Jumanji
Released: 1995

Fix: Childhood Nostalgia
Platform: Netflix

Netflix Summary:

When two siblings discover an enchanted board game that’s a portal to a magical world, they meet a man who’s been trapped inside the game for years.

FYA Summary:

HASBROS HAZARD, BROS: WHEN BOARD GAMES ATTACK! In what must have been a difficult movie to market merch tie-ins for*, there exists a board game with a mind of its own. With each roll of the dice, players risk increasingly horrible consequences, all because they were unable to resist the game’s percussive Tell-Tale Heart-esque allure. That game? 

Alan: “Jumanji.”

*I personally really wanted the board game BUT ALSO NOT ’cause I’d have been terrified to own it.

Familiar Faces:

Robin Williams as Alan

I’m not sure if there was anyone who could have portrayed Alan’s little-kid-in-a-big-kid’s-body as well as and with as much sincerity as Robin Williams did. This movie isn’t flawless by any means, but this casting was absolutely on point. 

Bonnie Hunt as Sarah

Throughout this movie, I kept wondering, “Why wasn’t Bonnie Hunt a bigger deal? She’s so much fun to watch.” Then again, I never watched her failed talk show, so I too am contributing to the Bonnie Hunt deficit. .

Kirsten Dunst as Judy

A feisty and rebellious pre-teen, I obvi loved and idolized Judy (and Kiki) as a child. Rewatching as a grownup, I’ve become the Roger Murtaugh to Judy’s shizz. 

David Allen Grier as Carl

DAG is one of those actors that I never know what I remember them from; mystery solved, methinks. Also, he makes the best faces.

See what I mean?

Bebe Neuwirth as Judy and Peter’s aunt, Nora

Poor Bebe Neuwirth spends the entire movie wearing either high-waisted jeans or that beret. The height of mid-’90s fashion, everybody!

Jonathan Hyde as Alan’s father and Van Pelt

Judging from his résumé, I should have recognized Jonathan Hyde’s face from the three or four times I watched Titanic during its theatrical run. Here, he plays both Alan’s father and archnemesis, similar to how Captain Hook and George Darling are traditionally played by the same actor (appropriate — and also on Netflix).

Patricia Clarkson as Alan’s mother

Patricia Motherlovin’ Clarkson is just as appalled as I am that I couldn’t find a better photo of her from this movie.

Laura Bell Bundy as 12-year-old Sarah

HOLY SHIZZ, Musical Elle Woods is in this?! Thank goodness her acting’s vastly improved since her child actress days.

Couch-Sharing Capability: Medium

If, like me, you first watched this movie as a child, you might be flooded with those memories, which could be a lot of fun to share with a group of friends. That sinister drum beat used to SCARE THE SHIZZ out of me, because of the spookiness of the opening scene and the deep-seated fear that BOARD GAMES WILL SWALLOW ME WHOLE, BEGONE HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPOS. And hearing them again after all this time was nearly Pavlovian. 

The movie itself isn’t groundbreaking or anything — unless we’re talking literally, LOLZ — but it’s inoffensive family fare. Although one thing I def. didn’t remember about it is how much screaming and shrieking and screeching there is, so maybe let the surround sound take the night off. 

Recommended Level of Inebriation: It Depends

Try as everyone in this movie did, the script just isn’t that great. It’s full of those easy jokes that might elicit a chuckle but are instantly forgettable. 

And the movie hasn’t aged well at all, esp. the special effects. That could have been cutting edge for 1995 for all I know, but my 2014 eyes couldn’t stop noticing the terrible CGI animals and obvious green screen action during the flood. And how can a house full of water be enough to flood the streets with enough current to sweep people away? And — spoiler alert — given that Alan and Sarah so vividly remember Judy and Peter, does that mean they have two sets of memories of the past twenty-six years? Does that mean Alan hasn’t forgotten being completely on his own in a harsh wilderness, and Sarah still remembers her mental anguish in the aftermath of Alan’s disappearance? Because that’d be freaking dark. 

What I’m saying is, numb your brain to shut up about this movie’s flaws as necessary.

Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Decent

You could never recapture the joy of watching this spectacle for the first time (and in 1995). But movies like this are like yearbooks: yeah, the clothes are regrettable, but you’re really looking at it to reminisce about dear friends anyway. 

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she’s been overseeing all things FYA Book Club since 2013.