Movie review

Movie review: ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’

Sequel to 1995 comedy is zippy fun, but under-uses comedy stars

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The tweaks used to update the plot of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” are evident and obviously required quite a bit of skill to accomplish. Whether filmmakers were successful enough to make this as memorable as the 1995 original probably depends on how willing people in the audience are able to suspend their disbelief.

Interestingly, it begins where the first one ended, with the dark-magic board game lying on a beach. A young man hears those mysterious tribal drums coming from it and a new victim is born. The twist here, is that the board game transforms itself into a video game, circa 1996.

As in the original, this leads to dire consequences for the young man’s family as his disappearance creates trauma and despair. Flash-forward to the present and a group of high school kids – Spencer (Alex Wolff), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), Martha (Morgan Turner) and Bethany (Madison Iseman) – who end up in detention for various reasons. Director Jake Kasdan (son of Lawrence) makes sure we pay close attention to various character traits as they end up in this “Breakfast Club”-like situation. There’s the smart but lazy jock, the brainy and introverted nerd, the self-absorbed and cellphone-addicted cutie, as well as the angry-at-the-world loner.

Of course, they discover the Jumanji game and next thing you know, each person is sucked into the game. If you saw the original, you know Robin Williams’ character disappeared into the game as a kid and grew up in a crazy jungle before it spit him out into the real world once the next roll of the dice moved a game piece. Well, that’s where our heroes end up, only here they’ve been transformed into the avatars they chose when they booted up the video game.

So, nerdy Spencer is now seen as buff action hero Dr. Smolder Bravestone, as played by buff action hero Dwayne Johnson; loner Martha is now seen as martial arts hottie Ruby Roundhouse, played by Karen Gillan; lazy egotistical Fridge is now Moose Finbar in the guise of Kevin Hart; and self-centered Bethany is now Professor Shelly Oberon, a man, who is played by Jack Black. Of course, there’s a certain irony in how each kid’s avatar turned out, but as in the first movie, there’s a lot to be learned and turned around for each character as they play the game.

Teeny warning: The action can sometimes be intense and some of the slightly adultish situations might not be suitable for little ones.

If there is a quibble, it’s that the plot doesn’t allow for the major comedic stars, whom we assume weren’t necessarily hired for their good looks, to express their talents in ways that’d have audiences rolling on the floor laughing. Yes, there are quite a few funny moments, but they are in strict service to the story. Still, for holiday escapist fare, this will probably do the trick.

“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is rated PG-13 for adventure action, suggestive content and some language.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

The following information was compiled from press materials.

'Downsizing'

MPAA rating: R for language (including sexual references), some graphic nudity and drug use

Mitchell Storyteller 7

When scientists discover how to shrink humans to 5 inches tall as a solution to overpopulation, Paul (Matt Damon) and his wife, Audrey (Kristen Wiig), decide to abandon their stressed lives in order to get small and move to a new downsized community – a choice that triggers life-changing adventures. Directed by Alexander Payne, this film co-stars Christof Waltz, Jason Sudeikis and Neil Patrick Harris.

This film will be screened daily.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

'Father Figures'

MPAA rating: R for language and sexual references throughout

Mitchell Storyteller 7

Fraternal twin brothers Kyle and Peter Reynolds (Owen Wilson and Ed Helms) have learned that their father did not die when they were young, as they had previously believed, and their eccentric mother, Helen Baxter (Glenn Close), had slept with many rich, famous and powerful men in the 1970s. When they go on a road trip to find out who their real father is, they find out more about their mother than they probably ever wanted to know. Directed by Lawrence Sher (in his directorial debut), this film co-stars J.K. Simmons, Katt Williams, Terry Bradshaw, Ving Rhames, Harry Shearer and Christopher Walken.

This film will be screened daily.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

'The Greatest Showman'

MPAA rating: PG for thematic elements (including a brawl)

Mitchell Storyteller 7

This film directed by Michael Gracey, from a screenplay by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon, is described as a bold and original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and the sense of wonder we feel when dreams come to life. Inspired by the ambition and imagination of P.T. Barnum, “The Greatest Showman” tells the story of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a mesmerizing spectacle that became a worldwide sensation. This musical features songs by Oscar winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and stars Hugh Jackman, along with Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya.

This film will be screened daily.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

'Pitch Perfect 3'

MPAA rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language and some action

Mitchell Storyteller 7

After the highs of winning the World Championships, the Bellas find themselves split apart and discovering there aren't job prospects for making music with your mouth. But when they get the chance to reunite for an overseas USO tour, this group of nerds will come together to make some music – and some questionable decisions – one last time.

This film will be screened daily.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

'Wonderstruck'

MPAA rating: PG for thematic elements and smoking

Movies at the TCA

Based on Brian Selznick’s critically acclaimed novel, Ben (Oakes Fegley) and Rose (Millicent Simmonds) are children from two different eras who secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known, while Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his home and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out on quests to find what they are missing that unfold with mesmerizing symmetry. The wonderfully acted film was directed by Todd Haynes and co-stars Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams and Tom Noonan.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 31) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Jan. 1-3).

Movies at the TCA film series, Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

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