Word broke recently that Sony Pictures would be releasing a remake of the 1995 Robin Williams film, Jumanji, in late 2017. Jumanji is one of those very strange but super memorable kids movies from the 90s - one that's ridiculously fun and watchable, but has a lot of weird stuff going on. And it's one that we've seen so many times, we've noticed a few weird things that we can't get off our minds. Here are just a few of them.
1. Holy shit - why is every aspect of this is INSANELY grim?! Alan is trapped in an alternate universe for 26 years, Sarah lives with the guilt of losing her best friend in inexplicable circumstances, and the two main kids JUST lost their parents!
Are...are we sure this is a kid's film? Alan's whole life is beyond ruined - forced into a harrowing alternate universe as a child, with no explanation of what's happening, and forced to fend for himself for nearly 30 years. Sarah's a broken shell of a person, having endured countless hours of therapy and medication to help her deal with the horror of what she witnessed. The two main kids just had both of their parents die. And David Alan Grier's entire life (and potential fortune) was lost because some kid fucked with his shoe prototype.
That's a pretty dark premise for a movie based on a kid's book about a wacky board game.
2. Alan just lets David Alan Grier take the fall for his fuckup?
David Alan Grier is pretty much the only person in Alan's (childhood) life who's kind and friendly to the kid - and when Alan fucks up his shoe prototype (FOR NO REASON), he just lets David Alan Grier take the fall and doesn't say a goddamn word? HE'S THE ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD WHO'S NICE TO YOU - maybe stick up for him?
Now, I'm not saying Alan DESERVED to get sucked into a terrifying jungle board game, but...
3. All anyone needed to do to free Alan was roll a 5 or an 8. WHY DIDN'T ANYONE EVER TRY THAT?
Alan's parents were so consumed with grief when Alan disappeared, they spent their whole lives and all of their money trying to find him. And Sarah went basically insane - spending thousands of hours in therapy and taking prescription pills to try to cope with existence in the wake of that trauma. But all she needed to do to spare everyone the pain of losing Alan was ROLL THE GODDAMN DICE AGAIN.
Hell, it didn't even NEED to be Sarah (although she could have done the right thing and NOT abandoned her friend in a board game universe when she CLEARLY knew exactly what was necessary to bring him back). Assuming Sarah told someone (and we kinda HAVE to assume she ranted her story to the police or her parents or someone), word would have gotten back to Alan's folks. Maybe they could have rolled the dice (the turn of phrase) and rolled the dice (the literal act of rolling dice). We know that new players can enter the game, and that it didn't HAVE to be Sarah that got a 5 or 8.
Basically, Alan spent 30 years in an actual nightmare world because no one was willing to throw some fucking dice.
4. Why isn't Robin Williams WAY crazier than he is?? He's been completely alone in a magic jungle for 26 years.
Sure, Alan's a litttttle eccentric when he gets out of the board game he's been trapped in for his entire adult life, but he should be fucking OUT OF HIS MIND. He manages to compose himself and have a perfect handle on everything almost immediately, even though he's spent the past 30 years with zero human contact - except for a hunter that looked just like his dad TRYING TO MURDER HIM FOR NO REASON.
5. Whoa, why did David Alan Grier have a loaded shotgun in the front seat of his cop car?
I know your real passion was Shoe Innovation, but that doesn't excuse such sloppy policing. You gotta keep safety in mind, just in case terrible mischievous CG monkeys happen.
6. Alan manages to give himself a weirdly great makeover?
For someone who has literally never shaved nor given himself a haircut ever, Alan manages to give himself a pretty stellar makeover (and even a decent shave-job, a few minor cuts notwithstanding).
7. Wait - what are the rules of Jumanji? You roll, something happens that doesn't require you to do anything, and then you keep rolling? They could just speed-roll through the game in like 5 minutes!
The game of Jumanji actually kinda sucks HARD. You roll the dice, something happens (that doesn't even require you to pay attention to it), and then the next person rolls until you get to the end of the game. And given Alan only rolls, like, 4 times in the entire movie, it's a REALLY SHORT GAME. Instead of getting distracted by every weird thing that happens, they coulda just huddled in a circle and rolled like hell to finish the game.
8. Shit - Van Pelt is INSANE. A hunter who exclusively hunts humans, attempting to go on a shooting spree in the middle of a town? This is practically a joke about a massacre shooters.
Van Pelt is presumably a very old school hunter, yet is never going after one of the many animals that have overtaken this poor town. In fact, he ONLY shoots at humans. This goes a little bit beyond the "Most Dangerous Game" hunter trope and into, uh, a straight up insane guy with a gun trying to massacre people. Sure, his main target is Alan, but he fires repeatedly at David Alan Grier, Sarah, and tons of other people - and there's even a joke about how he was able to skip the background check for getting a crazy new gun.
Remember when I said this movie was dark? Well, in the wake of countless school shootings and other shooting massacres against innocent civilians, this movie now seems EVEN DARKER.
9. Man, why is the Jumanji game board so bad at coming up with rhymes? For being a magical super game that can teleport you through time and bend reality to its will, its wordplay is pretty shitty.
- "They fly at night, you'd better run. These winged things are not much fun."
- "They grow much faster than bamboo. Take care or they'll come after you."
You'd think this magical superpowered evil game would be able to come up with some better rhymes than THAT. You can create a monsoon entirely localized inside a house but you can't come up with some decent rhymes?
10. Holy SHIT, who signed off on the CGI monkeys?
I know this was 1995, but goddamn those CGI monkeys look terrible.
11. Why do they think they can only play the game in the house? They can play it anywhere.
Every time they're pulled away from the house, they keep trying to go back and play there instead of...anywhere else? Why?! There's nothing in the game or the rules that say you HAVE to roll the dice only when you're in the Parrish house. Why do they keep wasting time hiking back there? THERE ARE ACTUAL PEOPLE DYING FROM JUNGLE MONSTERS ALL AROUND THEM!
...which, ya know, is fine at the end, since they time travel back to the past, but they don't KNOW they're gonna get to time travel. Pretty wasteful.
12. Why's Van Pelt's bullet get sucked into the game? It was from the real world!
Every single thing that gets sucked back into the board game at the end of the movie, after Alan finally gets to the center of the board, is FROM the game. The plants, the rhinos, and even Van Pelt - but Van Pelt's gun (and bullets) are from the real world - why would they get sucked in? Even if the rule was "anything Van Pelt was touching", it wouldn't make sense, since the bullet was already out of the gun and about to blow Bonnie Hunt's brains all over the place.
13. Alan and Sarah don't properly dispose of the board game after what they just went through?
Alan and Sarah's lives (in the original timeline) were horrible. "Traumatic" doesn't even BEGIN to describe the emotional and physical shit those two had to deal with as a result of TWO ROLLS with this damn board game. You'd think they'd recognize that they need to make ABSOLUTELY SURE that no one ever has to suffer the way they did again - either by destroying the game or, like, dropping it down the deepest pit they can find (and then filling the pit with cement or something). Instead, they toss it in a river and say "ehhh that's probably enough."
AND WE KNOW IT'S NOT ENOUGH, CUZ TWO KIDS FIND IT AND THEIR LIVES ARE ABOUT TO BE DESTROYED. Thanks a LOT, Alan and Sarah.
14. WHY WOULD THEY REMAKE THIS? Sure the CG is shoddy, there's some weird leaps in logic, and it's dark as hell, but it's GREAT.
The truth is, Jumanji is an incredibly great, special movie - while the darkness is very weird and sorta off-putting, it also makes this really unique in kids' movies for exploring some unusually grim things that NO kids movie could get away with today.
Plus, Robin Williams is so effortlessly great and funny and touching in an extremely weird role, which requires him to be childlike, a survivalist, and consumed by a deep sense of grief and loss - while at the same time being a goofy, funny lead in a movie intended for kids. And he pulls it off. Who are they gonna put in the remake? Kevin James?
OH GOD IT'S GONNA BE KEVIN JAMES, ISN'T IT?
UPDATE: it's The Rock and Kevin Hart and Jack Black. Which....I think is slightly better than Kevin James? Maybe?