Review: Jumanji sequel is laugh out loud funny and better than it has any right to be

Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle

Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle - Credit: Archant

Twenty-two years after the original Robin Williams film comes the sequel to 1995’s Jumanji.

Upgrading the board game for a more modern games console, the story focuses on four teenagers serving detention who are magically sucked into the console to become characters from the game.

Strangely for a sequel nobody was really asking for, the film is a real delight. Featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the lead role of student Spencer stuck in the body of Doctor Smolder Bravestone.

The Rock’s comic timing and charisma have always been his strengths and here he is able to show off both, together with a more rarely seen sensitive side as the scared student inside him battles to come to terms with his situation.

The rest of the gang is made up of Karen Gillen, Kevin Hart and the excellent Jack Black, who as host for the vacuous Bethany, seems born to play a teenage girl.

Many of the laughs come from Black and the amusing interplay between Hart and the Rock, while Gillen shines as the shy Martha stuck in the body of dance fighting expert Ruby Roundhouse. Her awkward but hilarious attempt to seduce two guards is a particular highlight.

The gang soon discover that if they are ever to escape the jungle and return to the real world, they must finish the game.

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With the help of Alex (Nick Jonas) who has been lost in the jungle for 20 years, and pursued by the evil villain Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale) the gang must band together and return a sacred Jewell to the statue from whence it came.

As with any computer game, each character has a limited amount of lives to play with. A fact that leads to some entertaining and inventive “death” scenes, from which the players reappear shortly after, ready to continue.

The humour is well judged, as director Jake Kasdan avoids being too crude and wisely relies on family-friendly slapstick and the charm of his four leads to carry the film through.

Fans of the 1995 film will enjoy some nice nods to the original including the trademark Jungle drums, however this is very much a self contained movie that doesn’t require any prior knowledge.

In a world with too many unnecessary and poorly executed sequels, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is way better than it has any right to be.

Laugh out loud funny and thoroughly entertaining throughout.