Jumanji (1995)

Rating: D+

Dir: Joe Johnston
Star: Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, Bradley Pierce, David Alan Grier

Jumanji is a board-game whose forfeits have a nasty edge: Robin Williams’ character was stuck in the jungle for 26 years, until orphans Dunst and Pierce find the unfinished game and bring him back…along with, it seems, half the inhabitants of the African jungle, not to mention its weather. Can’t knock the special effects which are mostly spine-tinglingly good, particularly the stampedes (right). For most of the running-time, however, the plot consists of a very sparse three elements: a) the dice are rolled, b) something nasty but spectacular happens, and c) much running and/or screaming – repeat, in strict rotation, until feature length is obtained.

At least this does stop Robin Williams from being more than slightly annoying. It’s only the beginning and end that even hint at anything with depth beyond the “Look! Wildebeest!” level, though the efforts of the local cop (Grier) to come to terms with monkeys, rhinos and big-game hunters on his beat are entertainingly futile, while Bonnie Hunt’s flaky psychic has her occasional moments too. On the whole though, this is the kind of film that is best watched with a copy of Reader’s Digest to hand, for those awkwardly sluggish moments.