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‘Welcome to the Jungle’ a fun family adventure

Maya Dennis, A&E critic

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It seems Hollywood has run out of gas, especially considering the most recent movies are either remakes or sequels.

But “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” proves otherwise.

While “Welcome to the Jungle” can be seen as a reinvention of the original 1995 film, it’s different than other recent sequels (ahem “Blade Runner: 2049”). The film doesn’t rely on its predecessor for content and references. The only thing taken from the original is the pounding drum sound the game itself makes. Almost everything else is entirely original, which is a rarity in Hollywood nowadays.

The film’s biggest star, Dwayne Johnson (“Fast and Furious” series), plays Dr. Smoulder Bravestone.  But at first, Bravestone is just Spencer (Alex Wolff), a skittish nerd who stays inside and plays video games. However, Johnson is more like his avatar name especially when he smoulders for dramatic effect on accident.

Martha, aka Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), is your typical introverted teenage girl. She hates exercise and just wants to read her classic novels. Gillan portrays her character the best when compared to her co-stars. She is able to capture Martha’s movements and habits, making you believe Martha really is playing as Ruby Roundhouse.  

Bethany, the conceited popular girl gets transported into the game as “an overweight middle-aged man,” who just so happens to be Jack Black. Black’s portrayal of a 16-year-old girl steals the spotlight from Johnson and by the end, it’s all you can talk about. Most of his experiences pertain to what it’s like changing genders and how most women would react.

Fridge — former best friend of Spencer — is played by Kevin Hart. The irony is that Fridge is a jock, so he’s pretty big and then his avatar is Hart. You can already see the jokes forming. At one point he slaps Bravestone — as shown in the trailer — and the consequences are hilarious. Especially when you think about the kids they’re playing.

The other great thing about “Jumanji” is the amount of humor that’s in the film. While most of the jokes come from the avatars they inhabit, there are also several running gags. With most comedies these days being rated R, “Jumanji” is a great family film to pop in on a random Sunday afternoon.

The message — without spoiling the film — talks a lot about being yourself. Ironic, considering the film is about teenagers in other people’s bodies, but it’s true. Bethany, throughout the film, always supports Martha. Spencer tries his best to be friends again with Fridge (played by Kevin Hart). They try and support each other through their journey and it’s nice to watch.

Last weekend, the film surpassed “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” at the box office with $36 million. While the film itself has only made $352.9 million dollars — less than “Star Wars” — it’s sure to make its profits with ease. With its humor, A-list cast and overall cleverness, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is the perfect movie to take the whole family to — whether you liked the original or not.

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‘Welcome to the Jungle’ a fun family adventure