Honestly, I can’t remember what inspired me to make Jumanji, and I’m too lazy to IMBDB it. I’m thinking it must have been based on a dream…a dream about a board game. I have those all the time. Cause I’m board.
This board game is pretty awesome. After rolling the dice, something appears out of nowhere and kills you. If you manage to not die, you have to keep playing, compounding dangers with each turn. The only way to save yourself is to finish the game. And if that’s not difficult enough, the bus explodes if it’s speed falls under 50 MPH. The phone calls are coming from INSIDE your house!!!
A boy and a girl (played by Creepy Head Tate and Sally Rednose, respectfully) start a game of Jumanji in the early 70’s. One roll later, goofy boy is carried off by bats. Roll credits, motherfucker! THAT’s how you start a flick!
Thirty years later, a brother and sister continue the already started game. Their first roll brings back the boy, now full-grown and past his comedic prime. To continue playing, they must track down that little girl from the 70’s, now played by the hypothetically hilarious Bonny Hunt. (David Allen Grier’s face gives this film the “Tom Snyder Thinks it’s Funny” trifecta award.)
Instead of explaining the rest of the plot, I’ll just give you a glimpse of the shooting script beyond the opening Act:
Roll: Big Mosquitoes
Roll: Retarded Monkeys
Roll: 1 Lion
Roll: Stampede of Stuff
Roll: Hunter Dickhead
Roll: Super Mario Plants
Roll: Gene Siskel comes back to life
Roll: Game over
There are two problems with this movie. One is Robin Williams’ confusion over what type of role he was hired to play. The beard at the beginning threw him off, I guess. I wanted to tell him “This is not a drama! You cannot get an Oscar for this!” but you try talking to a coked-up man-tribble while he’s meditating on a more artful line reading. Word to the wise: you pay for the Robin Williams, but you get the constantly wisecracking Billy Crystal via cell phone for free. Even Robin Williams’ drug dealers (Whoopi Goldberg and her sister Nipsy) are attention hogs.
The other problem is the film’s rating. A board game that kills people is no fun at all when it doesn’t actually kill people. I never should have gotten into bed with Nickelodeon; those guys do not fuck around. At our first pitch meeting, one of them asked, “Exactly how much money will this film make?” I waited for him to start laughing, but he was not kidding. “I don’ t know,” I replied. Twenty gallons of green slime rained down upon me. They never let up with that shit.
Rewatching Jumanji, I have to say it’s not that bad. If I were to ever remake it, I think it would benefit most from an outer space setting. Or possibly an urban ghetto.
Behind every great book adaptation is a forgettable first try. — By Ryan Covey