A tale of standing up to your fears via games, Jumanji tells the adventurous tale of Alan Parrish, a bullied young man with a domineering father, who finds the magical game. He starts a game with his friend Sarah, but before she can role the dice, he disappears into the game and the room fills with bats. Sarah runs away and the film leaps ahead twenty six years.
Judy and Peter Shepherd move into the Parrish house with their aunt. They discover the game and free Alan. But the game is not over, as the house and soon the neighborhood start to fill with jungle creatures. And to top it off, there is the hunter Van Pelt, who is chasing after Alan.
They track down the grown up Sarah and coerce her into helping finish the game, all while their world gets turned more and more upside down. Their only hope to set things back to normal is to finish the game.
Williams is fun as the grown Alan Parrish, and the film sets him up as a kid in need of a reality check. David Alan Grier plays an employee of Alan’s father who is fired because he covers for a screwup of Alan’s at his father’s factory. It is not that Alan lacks reasons to be a bit selfish and bitter. But the film shows he needs to grow. In an interesting choice, the villain Van Pelt (an evil big game hunter within the Jumanji game) is played by Jonathan Hyde, who also plays Alan’s father. He actually brings warmth to Alan’s stern father towards the end, allowing the viewer to see why Alan still loves him. Part of that is played out when the adult Alan learns his father actually pretty much gave up on everything else in the effort to find his son.
Jumanji is dragged down a bit by it’s dated 1990’s digital effects, most distracting in the digital monkeys. However, this is still a pretty enjoyable and light film.