51- Jumanji “52PickUp”

For the penultimate edition of #52PickUp, I go to a film that my brother and I watched over a dozen times at least:


Jumanji. The 1995 “family” hit that caused millions of homes to cry out for a home version of the game, only to get this piece of garbage instead:

Seriously, this sucked.

My brother and I played this for five minutes before chucking it in the trash. We wanted this:

Where was this to capitalize off of those children’s wish lists?

The film begins with a kid named Alan, from New Hampshire (even if a majority of this film was shot in Maine, Yah yuh!), who stumbles across this board game in a construction site. Apparently only children can hear the heartbeat like drumming emanating from the game.

He takes it home, and after a fight with his father, plays the game with his childhood crush (who looks three years older than Alan). On Alan’s first roll, he gets sucked into the game until another player rolls a five or an eight.

Sarah runs away from the implantable, horrific, sight; and never returns. Alan stays in the game for twenty-six years before two other kids find the game and resume the play through.

Wait a minute, let’s break for a second because I want to discuss the forthcoming remake. Here’s the plot synopsis:


Really? So in that case, technically, Robin William’s Alan could have pretended to be fricking Superman in this game? Why is there any reason to be afraid of it? Is this element in the original Chris Van Allsburg book? Weird plot point, I must say.

The film was a big success in 1995, ranking number seven on the top films of that year, and earning over $242 million worldwide. And it ranks Number One in the Chris Van Allsburg adaptations, right ahead of Zathura and The Polar Express.

Ugh, disgusting.

Jumanji was a important film to my brother and me. When we first saw trailers for it on television, we knew that we had to own it. The way in which we bought films (or rather how our Dad bought films) was that when a new release would come out, our local Paradis Shop N Save would have a little stand-up for the film, and on Friday nights during the weekly grocery shopping trip, we’d pester our Dad until he caved to shut us up. So naturally that means he likely paid five to ten dollars more than he should have. We owe you a LOT of money, Dad.

Then we would watch the film a few more times during the weekend and if we really liked it; we’d continue on for the rest of the week. And if it was something truly special, like Jumanji, then we would continue to pop the VHS tape from out that large, white, plastic case and– Rewind. Then press play.

The film continued its importance for Travis and I as it became the first DVD we ever purchased (again, Dad was the one to shell out the money), but we had to wait for Christmas…

…Because our first DVD player was a Christmas gift, so we anticipated the “High-Quality transfer,” and purchased the film before we could use it. Talk about excitement.

Our faces during that wait.

Where/ when did I first see it?

We watched it soon after its VHS release in 1995 as mentioned above.

How does it hold up?

It holds up surprisingly well, except for the (you guessed it), CGI. Talk about bad CGI monkeys…


Otherwise than that, this is a pretty fun (pretty dark), family film. Apparently, Robin Williams wouldn’t let his kids watch this film when it was released.

What did I like about it and why?

The film is a touchstone in my childhood, and while it’s not of the highest caliber, it will always bring back memories of the moments where my brother and I got along as kids.

The actors were fun too. This was the first time I had seen Kirsten Dunst in anything, and I was always a fan of seeing actors in smaller roles gain traction in the business as they progressed in their careers.

And my oh my, Jonathan Hyde playing one of my first experiences with dual roles! I loved this actor as a kid (and for a time liked dual roles like the following year’s The Nutty Professor).

There’s also some great subtext as Van Pelt is essentially his father, especially when it comes to “facing your fears like a man.”

Lessons Learned?

  1. Don’t run from your problems!
  2. CGI monkeys aren’t good unless they’re in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and beyond (and they’re not even monkeys!).
  3. Robin Williams will forever be missed.



Where can you see it?

Check out Jumanji on CanIStream.It?

-Jamie (@GuyOnAWire)


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