Is it any good?

YES

I mean… yeah, i guess.

Actually it isn’t that good. But it recognizes exactly what it is and is simply entertaining.

This is a formulaic b-movie with some recognizable stars who all have chemistry and charisma. It’s a fun movie, but it doesn’t aspire to much either. But… let’s face it, neither did the Robin Williams movie. That movie probably wasn’t actually good, but I think we all have a bit of nostalgia for it anyway. I think this is a bit better because it’s not as ambitious, so it doesn’t fall short of its mark.

Four kids encounter the Jumanji board game as they’re all stuck in detention. Except this time it’s in the form of a video game. They all get sucked into the video game and have to abide by video game rules in order to try and complete a quest to get home. They have to learn to work together in order to succeed lest they all be stuck in the game.

This is a movie that sets out everything right up front and dares you to wonder if they will make it all the way to the end according to the plot mapped out. Spoilers: yes. No adventure movie is going to kill everyone with a cast that small. There’s no drama or surprise there. It’s extremely predictable, but that’s ok.

Because the cast is better than ok. Kevin Hart and the Rock already have a well known rapport, and it shines through really well here. Kevin Hart plays a football player who finds himself in a small body in the game and the Rock is a hypochondriac nerd who ends up as the Rock in the game. So it’s a slight reversal of the usual Kevin Hart/Rock dynamic, but it still works. Hart plays up the chip on his shoulder and Rock leans into his boyish-ness really hard. Karen Gillan plays the sorta default badass chick, but she’s really charming and her scenes with the Rock and Jack Black are fun and awkward and they all play really well together.

Jack Black steals the whole thing though. His character is a girl who chose a middle aged male character in the game so Jack Black plays a teenage girl throughout. And it totally works! You never forget that this is a pretty teenage girl trapped in Jack Black’s body. While he does ham it up, it somehow doesn’t feel terribly inauthentic. He isn’t overexaggerating too much. He’s just being a teenage girl. He’s easily the best part of the movie and I want to see him get the opportunity to play more teenage girls in the future.

There was one thing that I thought was nicely unexpected, even though it was still kinda expected. Jack Black’s Bethany strikes up an interesting relationship with another character in the film and the ending doesn’t go quite as you might expect. It’s slightly bittersweet in sorta the same way that the relationship between Robin Williams and the kids in the first movie went. I liked that they took the path they took with it.

A fun time was had by all. Not too fun, but an appropriate, if predictable, amount of fun.

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