Jumanji (1995)

Watch Jumanji (1995), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie


Jumanji (1995)

When two kids find and play a magical board game, they release a man trapped in it for decades – and a host of dangers that can only be stopped by finishing the game.

Jumanji is a 1995 American fantasy adventure film directed by Joe Johnston from a screenplay by Jonathan Hensleigh, Greg Taylor, and Jim Strain. Loosely based on Chris Van Allsburg’s picture book of the same name, the film is the first installment of the Jumanji franchise. It stars Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, Kirsten Dunst, Jonathan Hyde, and David Alan Grier.

The story centers on a supernatural board game that releases jungle-based hazards upon its players with every turn they take. As a boy in 1969, Alan Parrish became trapped inside the game itself while playing with his friend, Sarah Whittle. Twenty-six years later, siblings Judy and Peter Shepherd find the game, begin playing and then unwittingly release the now-adult Alan. After tracking down Sarah, the quartet resolves to finish the game in order to reverse all of the destruction it has caused.

The film was released on December 15, 1995, to mixed-to-positive reviews, but was a box office success, grossing $263 million worldwide on a budget of approximately $65 million. It was the 10th highest-grossing film of 1995.

The film spawned an animated television series, which aired from 1996 to 1999, and was followed by a related film, Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005), and two indirect sequels, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) and Jumanji: The Next Level (2019), with Columbia Pictures taking over distribution for all subsequent films.




Jumanji (1995) Trailer


Jumanji (1995) Reviews

“Jumanji” is being promoted as a jolly holiday season entertainment, with ads that show Robin Williams with a twinkle in his eye. The movie itself is likely to send younger children fleeing from the theater, or hiding in their parents’ arms. Those who do sit all the way through it are likely to toss and turn with nightmares inspired by its frightening images.Whoever thought this was a family movie (the MPAA rates it PG – not even PG-13!) must think kids are made of stern stuff. The film is a gloomy special-effects extravaganza filled with grotesque images, generating fear and despair. Even for older audiences, there are few redeeming factors, because what little story there is serves as a coathook for the f/x sequences, which come out of nowhere and evaporate into the same place.

The film opens in 1869, as a sturdy chest is buried in the woods. “What if someone digs this up?” a shadowy worker asks. “God help them!” he’s told.We flash forward to 1969, as a little boy named Alan finds the chest in a construction site and opens it to discover a board game named “Jumanji.” He rolls the dice and is instantly fascinated with the game’s supernatural powers. The pieces on the board move themselves. The game communicates with ghostly messages that float into focus in a cloudy lens. And Alan is attacked by a cloud of bats.

Another flash-forward, this time to the present, as two other kids find the game in an old mansion that has been abandoned for years. This is none other than Alan’s childhood home, and when the kids begin playing the game, Alan materializes. He has been in limbo all of this time, growing to manhood, and is now played by Robin Williams. His first words: “Where’s my mom and dad?” Ah, but there’s no time for sentimentality now.

He makes friends with the children, Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce), and together they begin to explore the world of Jumanji, which contains jungle terrors. They will be attacked by lions, monkeys, rhinos, elephants, giant insects, poison darts, plants that strangle them and other plants that eat things, snakes, birds, mosquitoes, thunder and lightning, and (it goes without saying) spiders. They will wrestle with a crocodile and Alan will almost be gobbled up by a pool of quicksand that appears in the middle of the mansion’s floor.

Other characters make their appearances. There’s Van Pelt (Jonathan Hyde), a big-game hunter who has also been captured by the game; Aunt Nora (Bebe Neuwirth), who has adopted little Judy and Peter (somehow it is inevitable that they are orphans), and Sarah (Bonnie Hunt), who was the little girl who played Jumanji with young Alan on that fateful day in 1969, and now has grown up to become a reclusive fortune-teller. The town shunned her because she insisted on telling the truth about her experience with the board game.

The basic notion of the film (two kids have lots of scary adventures with Robin Williams) must have sounded good on paper. But the technicians have filled the screen with special effects, both conventional and animated, in such a way that the movie is now about as appropriate for smaller children as, say, “Jaws.”It’s not bad enough that the film’s young heroes have to endure an unremitting series of terrifying dangers; at one point, little Peter gets converted into a monkey that looks like a Wolf Man, and goes through the film like a miniature Lon Chaney, with a hairy snout and wicked jaws. This image alone is likely to be disturbing to small children. To me, it looked like gratuitous cruelty on the part of the filmmakers toward the harmless young character.

The underlying structure of the film seems inspired by – or limited by – interactive video games. There is little attempt to construct a coherent story. Instead, the characters face one threat after another, as new and grotesque dangers jump at them. It’s like those video games where you achieve one level after another by killing and not getting killed. The ultimate level for young viewers will be being able to sit all the way through the movie.

  • Roger Ebert –  Roger Ebert
  • Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

Apparently, the producers of Jumanji wanted this film to be a Jurassic Park for 1995’s holiday season. If so, it’s a badly misplaced, and ultimately futile, hope. For, although no one would suspect Steven Spielberg’s 1993 dino-picture of having a plot worthy of great literature, at least it had a storyline — something this film is lacking.

Jumanji takes approximately one-hundred minutes for four people to play a board game. The result isn’t much more fun or involving than watching a few friends play Monopoly. Even the Robin Williams manic humor can’t save Jumanji, at least not entirely.

The film’s biggest claim to fame are its special effects. Unfortunately, they don’t look as impressive in extended scenes on the big screen as they do in short clips on TV. In fact, there are times when the sequences of charging rhinos, elephants, and zebras look downright cheesy.

The monkeys certainly aren’t convincing and the Little Shop of Horrors Audrey II-type man-eating plant would have been more effective had it broken into a song. (“Feed Me”?) Jurassic Park showed how amazing computer-generated creatures can be when properly handled; Jumanji shows what happens when less care is given to the technology.

The film opens with a brief segment in 1869, where two children furtively take a board game called Jumanji into the dark depths of a forest, where they bury it, uttering a quick prayer for the soul of whoever digs it up.

Switch to Brantford, New Hampshire in 1969, where with a boy named Alan Parrish is getting ready to run away from home. Before he leaves, however, he decides to play one round of a game — called Jumanji — that he recently found near his father’s work site. So, along with his friend Sarah, he sets up the board, rolls the dice, then gets sucked out of this world into some dark elsewhere.

Twenty-six years later, Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) move into Alan’s old house. They find the Jumanji game and start to play. Judy goes first, and her move causes surprise, real-life appearances by lions and monkeys. Then, when it’s Peter’s turn, Alan mysteriously re-appears, much older and looking suspiciously like Robin Williams with a lot of excess facial hair. A grown-up Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) soon joins the trio, so all the players are assembled. From then on, it’s a race to finish the game before rampaging safari rejects destroy Brantford.

The movie goes something like this: someone makes a move, then the characters spend the next ten minutes running away from whatever animals they unleash. Then it’s the next player’s turn. And so on… until the game (and the movie) ends. Jumanji comes across more as a blueprint for some deluxe amusement park ride than a legitimate film. It’s a pointless trek. The “adventure” is repetitive, he thrills are brief, and the moments of character-building drama are effete. Only the comedy works, but there’s not enough of it to justify an entire motion picture.

This is the kind of embarrassing dud that results when Hollywood places special effects and a neat concept over a well-told story. The children’s book Jumanji, written by Chris Van Allsburg, makes for good reading for a young audience, but it’s hardly the sort of material upon which to base a major motion picture. The men and women behind Jumanji didn’t just lose a turn; they lost their way.




Jumanji (1995) Credits

Jumanji movie poster

Jumanji (1995)

Rated PG For Menacing Fantasy Action and Some Mild Language

100 minutes


Jonathan Hyde as Sam Parrish

Robin Williams as Alan Parrish

Kirsten Dunst as Judy

Bradley Pierce as Peter

Written by

  • Jim Strain
  • Greg Taylor
  • Jonathan Hensleigh

Based On The Book by

  • Chris Van Allsburg

Directed by

  • Joe Johnston




Jumanji (1995) Plot

In 1969, Alan Parrish lives with his parents Sam and Carol in Brantford, New Hampshire. One day, he escapes a group of bullies and retreats to Sam’s shoe factory. He meets his friend, Carl Bentley, who reveals a new shoe prototype he made by himself. Alan misplaces the shoe and damages a conveyor belt, but Carl takes responsibility and loses his job. After the bullies attack Alan and steal his bicycle, Alan follows the sound of tribal drumbeats to a construction site. He finds a board game called Jumanji, which was buried 100 years earlier, and brings it home.

That night, after arguing with Sam about attending a boarding school, Alan plans to run away, but his friend, Sarah Whittle, returns his bicycle. Alan shows her Jumanji and invites her to play. With each roll of the dice, the game piece moves by itself and a cryptic message describing the roll’s outcome appears in the crystal ball at the center of the board. After Alan inadvertently rolls a five, a message tells him to wait in a jungle until someone rolls a five or eight, and he is sucked into the game. Afterwards, a swarm of bats appears and chases Sarah out of the mansion.

Twenty-six years later, Judy and Peter Shepherd move into the now-vacant Parrish mansion with their aunt Nora, after their parents died in an accident on a ski trip in Canada the winter before. Discovering Jumanji in the attic, Judy and Peter begin playing it. Their rolls summon giant mosquitoes and swarms of monkeys.

The game rules state everything will be restored when the game ends, so they continue playing. Peter next rolls a five which releases a lion and a grown up Alan. As Alan makes his way out, he meets Carl, who is now working as a police officer. Alan, Judy, and Peter go to the now-abandoned shoe factory and learn that Sam abandoned the business to search for his son after his disappearance, until his 1991 death. Eventually, the factory closed, sending Brantford into economic decline.

Realizing they need Sarah to finish the game, the three locate Sarah, now haunted by both Jumanji and Alan’s disappearance, and persuade her to join them. Sarah’s first move releases fast-growing carnivorous vines, and Alan’s next move releases a big-game hunter named Van Pelt, whom Alan first met in the game’s inner world. The next roll summons a stampede of various animals, and a pelican steals the game. Peter retrieves it, but Alan is arrested by Carl. Back in town, the stampede wreaks havoc, and Van Pelt steals the game.

Peter, Sarah, and Judy track Van Pelt to a department store, where they set booby traps to subdue him and retrieve the game, while Alan, after revealing his identity to Carl, is set free. When the four return to the mansion, it is now completely overrun by jungle wildlife. They release one calamity after another until Van Pelt arrives. When Alan drops the dice, he wins the game which causes everything that happened as a result of the game to be reversed.

Alan and Sarah return to 1969, just in time for Alan to reconcile with Sam, who tells him that he does not have to attend boarding school. Alan also admits his responsibility for damaging the conveyor belt. After realizing that they have memories of the game, Alan and Sarah throw Jumanji into a river, then share a kiss.

In an alternate version of the present, Alan and Sarah are married and expecting their first child. Alan’s parents are still alive and Alan is now successfully running the family business. Alan and Sarah meet Judy, Peter, and their parents Jim and Martha for the first time during a Christmas party. Alan offers Jim a job and convinces them to cancel their upcoming ski trip, averting their deaths.

Meanwhile, two young girls hear drumbeats while walking on a beach. Jumanji is seen lying partially buried in the sand.




Jumanji (1995) Box office

Jumanji did well at the box office, opening at No. 1 and earning $100.5 million in the United States and Canada and an additional $162.3 million overseas, bringing the worldwide gross to $262.8 million.




Jumanji (1995) Critical Response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 52% from 46 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The site’s consensus reads: “A feast for the eyes with a somewhat shaky plot, Jumanji is a good adventure that still offers a decent amount of fun for the whole family”. On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 39 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating “generally unfavorable reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A−” on an A+ to F scale.

Roger Ebert rated the film one-and-a-half out of four stars, criticizing its reliance on special effects to convey its story which he felt was lacking. He questioned the decision to rate the film PG rather than PG-13 as he felt that young children would be traumatized by much of the film’s imagery, which he said made the film “about as appropriate for smaller children as, say, Jaws“.

He specifically cited Peter’s monkey transformation as making him “look like a Wolf Man … with a hairy snout and wicked jaws” that were likely to scare children. Regarding the board game’s unleashing one hazard after another at its main characters, Ebert concluded: “It’s like those video games where you achieve one level after another by killing and not getting killed. The ultimate level for young viewers will be being able to sit all the way through the movie”.

Van Allsburg approved of the film despite the changes from the book and it not being as “idiosyncratic and peculiar”, declaring that “the film is faithful in reproducing the chaos level that comes with having a jungle animal in the house. It’s a good movie”.


Jumanji (1995) Accolades


Jumanji (1995) Movie Info

A magical board game unleashes a world of adventure on siblings Peter (Bradley Pierce) and Judy Shepherd (Kirsten Dunst). While exploring an old mansion, the youngsters find a curious, jungle-themed game called Jumanji in the attic. When they start playing, they free Alan Parrish (Robin Williams), who’s been stuck in the game’s inner world for decades. If they win Jumanji, the kids can free Alan for good — but that means braving giant bugs, ill-mannered monkeys and even stampeding rhinos!

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