Baywatch sh*t the bed last month, but before that, F8 of the Furious was a monster hit. So it’s been a rollercoaster year for Dwayne Johnson, and it’s not over yet. The first trailer for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was released yesterday, priming the pump for Johnson’s comedy do-over. Officially, this Jumanji is a sequel to the 1995 Robin Williams movie, but unofficially, it looks an awful lot like a reboot. The game has been updated so that instead of being a board game, Jumanji is now a retro video game console, and players get sucked into a video game. Does this mean that there are more Jumanjis in the world? Board games, video games, and presumably, app games? Will the whole planet slowly be sucked into Jumanji through some media or another?
After Baywatch, I have a new wariness for The Rock; he’s not invincible, and he can make bad choices as a producer. On the other hand, Jumanji reunites him with Kevin Hart, and after Central Intelligence, all I wanted was another movie with Johnson & Hart. Well, I got what I wanted and it’s JUMANJI. (Oh my god—is Jumanji a monkey’s paw?) But, honestly, this doesn’t look that bad. But neither did Baywatch, going by trailers, so I remain cautious.
What wins me over is that bit with Johnson saying, “Don’t cry,” to himself. That’s the kind of self-effacing humor that is missing in Baywatch but has worked so well for him in other movies. And, of course, his rapport with Kevin Hart is strong enough to power a small city. They’re joined by Jack Black (obnoxious), and Karen Gillan And Her Terrible Costume. The “defense” of the costume is that her character, Ruby Roundhouse, is a 1990’s video game character—think Lara Croft—but then, they chose that! They decided that’s what she would be! So it’s a circular argument. The boots are pretty bitching, though.
But will a new Jumanji for a new generation work out? Well, it doesn’t look so bad it needs to be launched into the sun. But it’s up against Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which opens just five days earlier, so there’s not a lot of breathing room. No one hustles harder than The Rock, except maybe Kevin Hart, and they’ll both be pulling in the same direction for this one. And it will need their combined effort, if Jumanji is to claim even a shard of the holiday box office for itself, up against a juggernaut like Star Wars. Seriously, who even slated that?