Maybe the Jumanji reboot starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will be great. The original Jumanji, released in 1995 and starring Robin Williams, was great. The Rock is great. Stampedes — we have been promised stampedes — are great. But one thing is clear: The Jumanji reboot will not be about Jumanji. Or even vaguely related to Jumanji, by the sound of it.
A portion of the film, slated for a December release, was shown at Monday’s CinemaCon in Las Vegas. Two major points of difference with the OG Jumanji emerged:
1. There will not be a magical board game. Instead, the adventure will come courtesy of “a classic, ’90s-era video game console.”
2. The quartet of kids who find the game apparently do not stick around for much of the movie, since they are transformed into more famous adults. “In the film, four wildly different teenagers stumble across the game console while serving detention at school,” reports The Huffington Post, “becoming avatars totally different from themselves.” Per Sony, those changes are as follows: “[M]eek Spencer becomes a stupid and girl-crazy jock (Dwayne Johnson); football jock Fridge becomes a tiny Einstein (Kevin Hart); It-girl Bethany becomes a bookworm professor (Jack Black); and unathletic Martha becomes an Amazonian warrior (Karen Gillan).”
What? What??? “Fridge”? An Amazonian warrior? A tiny Einstein????????????????
If an alien landed in your backyard and demanded that you explain the plot of Jumanji, you would probably dispense the following essential tidbits: (1) kids find board game; (2) kids begin to play board game and discover that the board game is, in fact, a portal to a Jungle of Death; (3) kids discover that an ex-kid, now-adult once also found and played said board game, and got locked in the Jungle of Death; and (4) kids and adult are forced to continue playing the game to its completion, with each player’s turn unleashing new jungly terrors. That’s it! That’s the plot.
We have now established that in Jumanji 2.0, the kids do not find a board game, the game is not a portal because the characters turn into different people, and there are probably not turns, because turns are what happen in board games, which this is not. Maybe there are levels instead? Perhaps Kevin “Tiny Einstein” Hart goes running up some block steps, takes a flying leap, and grabs onto a flagpole, Super Mario Bros.–style? Regardless, the basic premise of the original — kids fend off board-game-induced jungle — is gone, because now they are adults, and there is no board game.
Look: If you want to make a The Rock Goes to the Jungle! movie, fine. Let’s do it. “Kid is transformed into Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and battles his way out of the jungle” is a movie I would probably go see. Would I like to see the Rock storm his way through a stampede? Yes. Is there something gained by setting the Rock up as a real-life nerd teen, who finds himself/muscles/probably his first kiss? OK, I’ll bite. But let’s be clear: I watched the original Jumanji. I loved the original Jumanji. The original Jumanji was a cherished companion of mine. To the Jumanji reboot starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — sir, you’re no Jumanji.