Jumanji is one of those films I watched as a child only because it regularly played on TBS. It’s a weird movie that I enjoyed for no particular reason, other than that it has an intriguing premise that was fun to reenact with friends.

Adapting picture books into movies is always an interesting process. Picture books aren’t plot-focused so making a movie adaptation is more about representing the “essence” of the book than it is about retelling the story. Chris Van Allsburg’s premise is simple: Judy and Peter play a board that brings each challenge to life within their home. Though startled by animal stampedes and thieving monkeys, the kids have no problem powering through the game and winning.

The movie captures that element of the story, but makes it more dramatic and life-threatening for the characters involved. This version of Judy and Peter and the adults playing alongside them (Alan and Sarah) struggle to complete the game. Though I enjoy the movie, and the semi-high stakes involved in it, I never asked this question: why aren’t there more Jumanji movies?

Hollywood seemed to think we needed a new one, but I think most people who like the original share my opinion. Sure we like the book and the 1995 movie, but why give us more?

Though a desire for it never crossed my mind before trailers hit the Internet, I’m surprised to admit I am interested in the one coming out this year. The trailers have a lot of laughs, and I like the idea of the Rock, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan playing teenage characters trapped in adult bodies/avatars. It may not be an original concept, but the method of exploring this Jumanji is rather unique.

Choosing to evolve the game from board to video to lure in a new generation of players is also a clever idea, and perfectly in line with the sneaky way the original book and movie game brings in its players/victims. I don’t know if Welcome to the Jungle references the board game origins, but if it does, I am all for the idea of this game adapting to meet the interests of its potential victims. In the end, this a movie intended for a new generation, and not necessarily for those nostalgic for the former.

It’s not a movie I wanted, but what I’ve seen so far of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle interests me. Welcome to the Jungle will be out soon; if you see it, share your thoughts in the comments! (I’ll follow up in the comments with my opinion on the movie once I see it.) While you wait to see the new version, you can check out the book and the original movie at your local library.



Michaela is a Youth Services Library Assistant for CPL. When she isn't at work, she can be found reading young adult fiction books, visiting a local movie theater or fangirling about all things related to Star Wars.

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2 thoughts on “Jumanji through the Years

  1. OMG! I thought I was going to be kicked out of the movie theater I was laughing so hard. I enjoyed how the avatars stayed within the game character while being their true selves (the teenager). I also liked the ending. This was very entertaining.

  2. I remember watching this movie dozens of times as a kid. It looked both fun and legitimately terrifying, depending on what the game did next!

    I’ve never read the book, but there’s another movie called Zathura that’s based on a very similar concept from another book by the same author. This time they get trapped playing a sci-fi adventure board game, so their house winds up flying through space at one point. It’s pretty wild!

    There’s also a horror movie called Beyond the Gates that came out last year with another game-that-brings-things-to-life idea, although much grislier as you can imagine, and that one’s not based on a book. I honestly prefer the original Jumanji overall.

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