It’s amazing how one child’s game can open a new world for them. You may find a child playing Super Mario Bros, but it’s more then playing; they are really on a mission in the Mushroom Kingdom, saving the princess. They could be playing a game of Clue, yet their not sitting down around a board; they are trying to solve a deadly murder that one of them may have committed. It’s all excessive imagination. I never believe in too much imagination. If something is truly magical to them, then have free right to what makes them happy. But what happens when the game brings itself into the world.
I’m really digging into one of my favorites in my nostalgia box. Jumanji was released back in 1995, during a time when I still played with toys and believed in fairies. When I saw the movie in theaters, I was struck with awe as this board game the characters were playing with has become too dangerous.
Jumanji was based off a children’s book written by Chris Van Allsburg (who also wrote The Polar Express). I didn’t read it until after the movie, but I liked it. It was a simple story of two children who played a game that came to life. The movie took the story and brought it up to another level.
The movie begins in the 1960s with a twelve-year-old boy named Alan Parish. He is the son of a shoe manufacturer and lives in the largest home in New England. One day, he finds a board game in a construction site called “Jumanji”. He takes it home to examine it more, but not until his father tells him that he’s going to a boarding school. They have a heated and Alan vows never to talk to him again as they leave for a party. As Alan’s friend Sarah is returning his bike, they start playing this game, expecting a little fun. But due to a bad dice roll, Alan is transported inside the game until someone “rolls five or an eight”. Scared from what she sees, Sarah flees, leaving Alan stuck.
Cut to the 1990’s where Judy (played by a young Kristen Dunst) and Peter arrive with their aunt to move into to the dilapidated mansion. The two stumble onto the game in the attic and accidently start playing as well. One move releases a grown up Alan (played by Robin Williams) along with several jungle animals. They seek out Sarah (played by Bonnie Hunt) and also release the hunter Van Pelt (played by the underrated Jonathan Hyde, who also played the father of Alan). What follows is the most intense board game, as jungle animals and plant life bring hell to this New England community.
After watching this again, it holds up better then it did before. I found this movie to be like a modern Peter Pan. Alan is a boy who is told he needs to stand up for himself and face everything like a man. He get’s whisked away to a place where he thinks he can avoid becoming his father, but still manages to do so. Van Pelt is great villain who reminds me of Captain Hook. The movie’s action is crazy, but nothing that should scare kids away. This is best suited for anyone over six.
I’ll give this five Jumanji board games out of five. This is not only one of my favorite films from childhood, it’s one of my favorites period.