When this was announced, I could not have been less interested. As a kid of the 90s, it may be sacrilegious to say this, but I don’t really care about the original Jumanji. It is weird with no real purpose or grounds in reality. I think if it wasn’t for Robin Williams, no one else would care either. But people do, and here we are. That being said, I had no expectations for a sequel, so imagine my surprise when I found it to be endearing, enjoyable, and thoroughly entertaining.
It is a little slow to get going, but I understand the teenagers are needed in the opening to set the scene. Once we are in “Jumanji” so to speak, things pick up. Johnson, Hart, Gillan, and Black are endlessly charming, managing to keep refreshing jokes about being stuck in the wrong body that I assumed would tire immediately.
The plot was as you expect, one main quest with side missions you must complete, like a video game. Nick Jonas, while a great addition in terms of eye candy, didn’t bring much to the table and was easily outshined by the other charismatic leads. Bobby Cannavale (more eye candy) played a convincing but ultimately unexciting villain, since the real threat here is the game itself.
I think the most impressive aspect of this movie was Jack Black. Playing a teenage girl stuck in Jack Blacks body, I assumed it would be 90 minutes of him saying grating phrases such as the “I can’t even” line from the trailer. But after the initial realization, you start to see character growth that feels like a 15 year old girl maturing, as opposed to just watching the guy from Nacho Libre spew lines from Twitter.
Welcome to the Jungle was just way better than the studios needed it to be, and I appreciate the extra effort it takes to actually try to make this funny. At the very least, it was worlds better than Baywatch. Which isn’t saying much. 8/10