Watching the original Jumanji before the remake: Like watching Harry Potter for the first time | hollywood | Hindustan Times
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Watching the original Jumanji before the remake: Like watching Harry Potter for the first time

Before Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson takes over with his reboot, we explore the original 1995 Jumanji starring Robin Williams.

hollywood Updated: Dec 28, 2017 13:10 IST
Soumya Srivastava
Soumya Srivastava
Hindustan Times
Jumanji is about what makes every children’s movie special and memorable: friendship.
Jumanji is about what makes every children’s movie special and memorable: friendship.

The first time I watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, it was right in my living room, sharing a couch with my brother. We told our parents that the TV was ours at noon and dragged it all the way from their bedroom, ran to the roof to throw the cable to the other side of the house, turned off the doorbell and the lights.

I remember that day so well. It was before I had read any of the books or before I was a fan of anything, ever. It was the first time I realised a movie could be the best thing to happen to you all year and considering life lately, the phenomenon has repeated itself quite frequently now with several types of movers.

However, that same exact feeling for a ‘children’s movie’ has been hard to come by. Or so I would have said up until now.

Considering a new Jumanji (reboot/remake/sequel) is just around the corner, I had the very blessed idea of returning to the 1995 Robin Williams original to see what the hype was all about. And upon investigation, I have found that the hype was all based on solid grounds.

With its story tied together in a beautiful, infinite bow and its characters all dripping with innocence, bravery, who care for each other, Jumanji made me realise something. Perhaps, to dunk oneself into that same experience, there is no other way, no shortcut, no Stranger Things, no Super 8, but to go back to an actual film, made when you were only a child.

With nothing but a picture book as its subject matter, Jumanji gave the world a story uniquely wholesome and fulfilling. A curious little boy, bullied by his peers and misunderstood by his parents, somehow finds himself trapped in an evil board game. The little girl, who he played the game with, is called a liar and crazy for what she saw. His father and mother spend and ruin their entire lives searching for him.

He is released 26 years later, as a screaming Robin Williams in banana leaves and a forest on his face, when two little orphans continue the game where he left it. But the strife isn’t ended yet. To end another cycle of unfortunate events, the players must finish the game and suffer through a racket of purple-faced monkeys, a stampede, a hunter with a shotgun, a flood, a lion in their aunt’s bedroom and all this while, strike a never-ending friendship with each other.

In itself, the excitement of the adventure, the dread of what is to come and the hilarity of the punch lines, all entwined in the music of the great James Horner and the charm of the talented Robin Williams should have been sufficient in delivering a film to make a profit at the box office. But what registered the deepest with me was the friendship between the adults and the kids, sparked during their journey through the chaos. In essence, both Robin and Bonny’s characters are the grown-ups in the film but living in a jungle for 26 years and not being allowed a normal childhood, would explain the friendship they strike with Kristen Dunst and Bradley Pierce’s characters. Even in the Harry Potter series or The Chronicles of Narnia, the real teams were made between children and adults, all trusting and caring for one another. Sirius Black for Harry and his friends and Mr Tumnus for the Pevensie kids.

The end, much like the kids’ decades-long life in Narnia, spirals back to the starting point of their adventure and the timeline is set straight. Their journey brings our two leads close for life (like Harry, Ron and Hermione) and they wait patiently for the friends they left behind. The poetic, perfect ending is what is making me think about the film even hours after the credits rolled and that enchanting music stopped playing.

The board game, while it was deemed evil at the beginning and through most of the film is, afterall, what gave all these lonely kids a chance at a happily ever after. The curious kid learns to love and understand his father, the crazy girl finds true love and the two orphans get to keep their parents alive.

Jumanji filled up my heart with a light so bright and warm that it would be too selfish to not tell everyone about it. Also, fight anyone who reminds me of the 50% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

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The author tweets as @soumya1405