Morley Movie Review: Jumanji

Christine Burney
Staff Reporter

4 out of 5 paws

Warning: A girl turns into a boy and discovers some new parts - so, though this aspect felt innocent to me, be aware in case you plan to attend this movie with family.

Everybody has had moments where they do not think they are enough and this movie confronts this thought in various ways. The new installment of Jumanji - a visually and technologically-updated addition to the growing Jumanji series. The film follows four kids who are given detention due in some aspect to the variously weak parts of each of their personalities. The plot is perfectly set up with the detention teacher’s welcoming address:  “You’re all here for a reason.  You should be thinking about who you are in this moment and who you want to be.”  

The adventure begins as they are sucked into the “game for those who seek to find a way to leave their world behind.”  They become the players they choose.  The question seems to echo over and over again: Who are you?  Who will you be? Who is she?  Who are we? As if calling to something deeper, something that is not quite awake.  

Each of them start with a set of assumptions and judgments about themselves and the others that are challenged and called out at every level. Every one of the characters embodies a stereotype that must be overcome in ways they cannot understand ahead of time and only together. I love this aspect of the film; it feels very timely in the midst of the intense political atmosphere of recently years, which has been fueled by stereotypical judgments.  They venture levels like a game-style 12-step program until they finally understand the reality of how awesome they are and how awesome their friends are.

The movie is well-executed throughout, minus a visual effect hiccup or two, which registers as nothing in comparison to the message and super fun action. Besides the consistency and clarity of the plot, the movement in this film was well, moving. The effects caught me off guard, the choreography made me want to dance fight, while the on-point humor and relatability kept me engaged to the end.  The music in the film harkens back to the days of Indiana Jones and probably the original Jumanji, accentuating the value of exploration and discovery over safety and ease. This movie carries the heart of its predecessor - urging the engagement of who you are in this moment amid the thought of who you are want to be.  Who are you in this moment - who are you wanting to be? 

If you have not yet seen Jumanji, check it out at the Morley. Download the Mitchell Theaters app for exact show times, trailers, end dates and more!