A wild-ish ride: Rashid Irani reviews Jumanji 2
Twenty-two years after a throw of dice plunged Robin Williams into an epic jungle adventure, four high-school students are whisked back to the wilderness in this update of the children’s picture book by Chris Van Allsburg.
This time, the catalyst is a vintage computer console rather than a board game. The teens turn it on and find themselves trapped in their in-game characters. Body- and gender-swapping mayhem ensues as a lanky nerd morphs into a mountain man (Dwayne Johnson, consolidating his reputation as a deadpan comedian) and a selfie-obsessed diva is transformed into a middle-aged professor (Jack Black).
In order to finish the game and revert to their former selves, the participants have to retrieve a McGuffin before it falls into the hands of the obligatory villain (Bobby Cannavale, huffing and puffing to little effect).
Director Jake Kasdan crams the narrative with one outlandish crisis after another. There are hair-raising encounters with beasties including a pack of rampaging hippos. Throughout, the far-fetched goings-on compel us to suspend disbelief.
An intermittently amusing fantasy …Welcome to the Jungle will appeal primarily to adolescent viewers.