December 11, 2008

Jumanji

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Jumanji is a 1995 fantasy film directed by Joe Johnston and based on Chris Van Allsburg's popular 1981 book of the same name. The story is about a supernatural and ominous board game which makes animals and other jungle hazards appear upon each roll of the dice. Expensive, state of the art computer graphics and animatronics were employed by Industrial Light & Magic for the special effects sequences. The film stars Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst and Bonnie Hunt.

It is dedicated to the memory of Stephen L. Price, an ILM visual effects supervisor who was involved with the film.

Plot

In 1869, two brothers, Caleb and Benjamin, go into the woods, start digging, and bury a box. Benjamin asks what would happen if someone found it. Caleb replies, "May God have mercy on his soul."

100 years later, 12-year-old Alan Parrish, a member of a wealthy and respectable upper-class family in Brantford, New Hampshire, is escaping bullies on his bike. He flees to his father's shoe factory where he meets his friend Carl, who works for his father. Carl has designed a trainer that he hopes will be successful; however, Alan accidentally damages it and costs Carl his job.

After being ambushed by the bullies outside the factory and having his bike stolen, Alan is drawn to a strange sound of drumbeats in a nearby construction site, which leads him to a locked trunk containing a mysterious board game within, called "Jumanji". He takes it home and later has an argument with his father Samuel, who, very proud of the way Alan took on Billy Jessup and the other bullies, is proposing to send him to a boarding school that other Parrishes, such as himself, have also attended.


Alan prepares to run away after his parents go out for the night; however, before he can leave, his friend Sarah Whittle arrives, having brought back his bike. They play the game, the instructions of which read:

"A game for those who seek to find

a way to leave their world behind.

You roll the dice to move your token,

doubles get another turn

and the first player to reach the end wins."

The tokens move by themselves and writing appears in the black sphere in the game's center. Sarah reads the riddle ("At night they fly, you'd better run. These winged things are not much fun") and strange squeaking comes from the fireplace. In an attempt to put the game away, Alan accidentally drops the dice on the board, and his piece moves. Alan's riddle reads: "In the jungle you must wait until the dice read five or eight". Before Sarah's eyes, Alan is sucked into the game and she is chased out of the house by a flock of bats that fly out of the fireplace.

26 years later, a pair of siblings, Judy and Peter Shepherd (Kirsten Dunst and Bradley Pierce), move into the old Parrish estate with their aunt, Nora. Judy and Peter's parents died in a car crash in Canada the previous winter. Ever since, Judy has become a pathological liar and Peter refuses to speak except when he and Judy are alone. While moving their stuff in, Peter enters the attic and discovers a lone African bat that has been living up there. The two children start to hear drum beats from upstairs, which their Aunt Nora cannot hear and one morning they go up to investigate. They discover Jumanji, which still has Alan and Sarah's tokens stuck to their current positions on the board and curious about the game, they set it up and read the rules. Peter is about to place two tokens on the board when they unexpectedly leap from his hand and fuse themselves onto the game. Peter allows Judy to go first.

The two watch in amazement as her token moves by itself and green writing appears in the center of the game. After she reads the riddle, ("A tiny bite can make you itch, make you sneeze, make you twitch") three giant mosquitoes fly in and Judy scares them off with a tennis racket. Peter rolls the dice, rolling a 1 on each die. After reading the riddle ("This will not be an easy mission, monkeys slow the expedition"), loud noises come from downstairs and they find a group of menacing monkeys in the kitchen, which then run out into the neighborhood. Judy then spots another notice written on the side of the game board reading:

"Adventurers beware.

Do not begin unless you intend to finish.

For the existing consequences of the game will vanish only

when a player has reached Jumanji and called out its name."

Judy reminds Peter that he rolled doubles, so he must roll again. Peter rolls a five, and a lion ("His fangs are sharp, he likes your taste. Your party better move, post haste") emerges from the shadows. It chases the two downstairs, where they are saved by the sudden appearance of a bearded man dressed in leaves (Robin Williams) who traps the lion in Aunt Nora's bedroom.

Finding the man in a locked room, the children realize that he is 38-year old Alan Parrish: Peter's roll of the dice has finally freed him from the game after two and a half decades. He runs out after learning his house has been abandoned for years. He runs out into the street and is nearly run over by a police car, driven by none other than Carl. Though Alan recognizes him from his nametag, Carl does not recognize Alan, and is puzzled by Alan's appearance and behavior. A couple of the monkeys sneak into Carl's car, blow a hole through the roof with a shotgun, and steal it, with Carl in pursuit on foot.

Alan runs to his father's abandoned factory (passing by some very shabby and run-down neighborhoods, hinting that the factory's shutdown greatly impacted the community) and learns that his father spent all his fortune trying to find Alan and gave up on life and his business when he gave up. He is directed to the Parrish gravestone where he learns they died just four years before. Judy tells Alan that their parents died as well, however she also immediately begins to make up another story, prompting Peter to break his silence in front of Alan. Judy asks if Alan can help them finish the game, but he refuses. The trio then witness a car crash and discover that the driver of the car was bitten by one of the giant mosquitoes. As a pair of paramedics load her into the ambulance, Alan, Peter and Judy get into the car where they are attacked by another mosquito. Alan starts up the car and drives the car back to his house.

Alan locks himself in the bathroom to sort himself out and he emerges with cut hair, clean shaven, and dressed in new clothes. He initially refuses to help them with the game, instead wishing to start his life again where he left off. Peter uses Reverse psychology on Alan by accusing him of being afraid of the game, but Alan, clearly affected by his years in the jungle, speaks to him coldly about what dangers lie within the game. He then reluctantly agrees to watch them play. However, Judy cannot take her turn and Alan realizes he must play, but it is not his turn; it is Sarah Whittle's turn.

They find Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) at her old house and she faints in shock when Alan reveals who he is. They take her back to the Parrish estate where they learn that she has been in therapy for years, trying to get over her experience of witnessing Alan being sucked into Jumanji as well as the resulting social isolation of being known as "the person who saw Alan Parrish murdered." Sarah is extremely frightened when she sees Jumanji and Alan tries to reassure her that nothing will go wrong. He tricks a terrified Sarah into taking her turn and the next riddle appears ("They grow much faster than bamboo. Take care, or they'll come after you"). The lounge is suddenly overgrown with vines and plants from the game. A giant yellow plant known as a "pod" rips its way through the fireplace and tries to eat Peter. Alan saves Peter using a sword on display above the mantle. Carl, meanwhile, finds his car crashed into a tree. He then heads off to arrest Alan.

Back at the house, Alan traps the plants in the lounge and guides a frightened Sarah into the library. Alan and Sarah have a heart-to-heart moment about how the game ruined their lives. The four reluctantly agree to finish the game. Alan rolls, but leaps up in fright when he reads the inscription: "A hunter from the darkest wild, makes you feel just like a child".

A gun goes off and Hunter Van Pelt, a hunter armed with a rifle, appears and chases Alan out of the house. Carl appears and tries to arrest Van Pelt, only to have his car shot at multiple times. Alan gets away and returns to the house, while Van Pelt runs out of ammunition and goes in search of a new supply of bullets. Back at the house, Sarah and Alan get into a heated argument, but they stop when Judy's turn causes the walls and floor to shake. Realising it is a wild stampede of animals, ("Don't be fooled, it isn't thunder. Staying put would be a blunder") the group flees with the game as a stampede of rhinoceroses, elephants, zebras, and pelicans charges through the house. One pelican lands and steals the game. The group gives chase, oblivious that the plants are spreading further throughout — and out of — the house.

Van Pelt goes into a gun shop and is able to replace his elephant gun with a modern automatic rifle. Peter saves the game from the pelican when it accidentally drops it in a river. Carl finds the group soon after and arrests Alan. Realizing that Van Pelt is hidden somewhere nearby and looking for an opening to shoot him, Alan lets Carl drive him away from the others. After this, Judy and Sarah discover that Peter has tried to cheat the game. He was only ten spaces away, so he tried to drop the dice accordingly, but he only got a six. As punishment for cheating ("A law of Jumanji having been broken, you will slip back even more than your token"), the game transforms him into part monkey.

Alan reveals to Carl who he is and apologizes for ruining his career in the shoe industry. Meanwhile, Jumanji has had several effects on the town. The mosquitoes have hospitalized nearly 100 people, the monkeys have hijacked several cars and caused storefront damage, and the stampede has plowed its way through town. All of this has led to widespread looting. Van Pelt steals Jumanji and Peter is nearly crushed by the raging stampede of animals while hiding in a car after he regains the game, but Van Pelt manages to find him and take it back. After Sarah and Judy free Peter, they follow Van Pelt to a discount store and battle breaks out as both sides fight to claim the game.

Carl releases Alan, but Alan handcuffs him to the car door to keep him away from the danger. After hearing of Sarah's predicament, Alan and Carl drive off to save her, Alan driving badly. They smash their way through the shop, causing a stand of paint cans to collapse on Van Pelt. Meanwhile, Aunt Nora is returning home in her car. She hears news of the mosquito bites' effects on people and sees the stampede go by. A monkey attacks her in her car, causing her to crash it.

On the way back to the house, Alan scolds Peter, but he then apologizes when he sees the young child-monkey cry as it reminds him of his own row with his father. When they arrive at the house, they discover that the plants in the lounge have freed themselves, turning the place into a jungle. Carl finds Nora on the road, but before he can drive her home, a plant attacks and devours his car.

At the house, Sarah rolls and creates a monsoon ("Every month at the quarter moon, there will be a monsoon in your lagoon"). Things take a turn for the worse when the lower areas of the house are flooded, and a crocodile attempts to eat the group. Sarah is nearly caught in the crocodile's jaws, forcing Alan to pounce and wrestle the crocodile to save her. Outside, Carl and Nora arrive, and Carl kicks the doors in, causing all the water to blast out of the house and to sweep him and Nora away, taking the crocodile with them.

The group goes to finish the game in the attic. Alan rolls, but the riddle summons quicksand ("Beware the ground on which you stand. The floor is quicker than the sand") and he begins quickly sinking into the floor. While Judy rolls the dice, Sarah puts her arms into the sand to try and save Alan, but Judy's turn freezes the floor ("There is a lesson you will learn; sometimes you must go back a turn"), trapping most of Alan's body and Sarah's arms. Peter rolls the dice and the group is surrounded by giant spiders ("Need a hand, while you just wait, we'll help you out, we each have eight.") and while fighting them, Judy collapses after being poisoned by a jungle plant.

Sarah rolls using her mouth and an earthquake occurs ("You're almost there with much at stake, but now the ground begins to quake"), freeing Alan, but causing both him and the game to fall through the house. After landing safely and finding the game, he notices that he can finish if he rolls a three. Before he can do so, Van Pelt appears, covered in paint. He prepares to shoot Alan and tells him to stand up and to drop the dice he is holding and asks why isn't he running. Alan says that he's terrified, but that his father told him to face his fears (suggesting that Alan had an encounter with Van Pelt before in the jungle). The dice roll and give a three and noticing his counter moving to the center of the game, Alan says "Jumanji" out loud. Before Van Pelt can shoot him, Sarah runs in front of Alan to save him, but now that the game is finished, everything that came from it is sucked back inside the center in a giant tornado of colors while Alan and Sarah hold each other tightly.

The game has ended, but Alan and Sarah are now children again, back in 1969, with the knowledge that they did grow up. Judy and Peter aren't born yet. Alan and Samuel make up and Alan confesses for damaging the shoe; his father is proud that he told the truth. Alan and Sarah decide to dump Jumanji in the nearby river, free of it at last. Sarah kisses Alan and the two walk off.

Twenty six years on, at the Parrish home, the two are now adults and are married with Sarah pregnant. They are celebrating Christmas with family and friends (including Carl, who was presumably promoted in the ranks of the Parrish industry) with Alan being Santa Claus. Alan is speaking to his dad on the phone, but he and Sarah have to dash off to meet some new friends: Jim (who has been hired by Alan and Sarah to work on the advertising for Parrish shoes) and Martha. The two are in fact Judy and Peter's parents. The two meet a happy Judy and Peter (again) and offer them presents. Jim informs the two that they might be going on a skiing trip to Canada, but Alan and Sarah, knowing that they would die in the car crash there, save them from their fate by asking Jim to start on his work as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, on a beach in France, a pair of children walk along, hearing some strange drums beating. Not far from them, almost fully buried in the sand, is Jumanji...

Cast

Spin-offs

  • There was an animated series based on the movie that ran from 1996-1999. In 1996 it was carried by the UPN network, but later seasons were syndicated by BKN. While it followed the movie's plot, there were a few changes such as the exclusion of Bonnie Hunt's character, and the age and relationship of the David Alan Grier character was changed somewhat. Each turn the player was given a "game clue" and then sucked into the jungle until they solved their clue. Robin Williams' character had missed his clue and was continually searching for it in order to escape the board game.
  • Milton Bradley released a board game that was equipped with not only the game clues from the movie, but also some new ones. The elephant, zebras, pelican, crocodile, man-eating plants, and barb-shooting plants have their own clues. The board game has a doomsday grid where a card would go if the other players don't roll the required rescue item in time. If the grid fills up, the game will end if a card lands on this space: "A card placed here brings dreadful news: The game is done, all players lose."
  • Zathura is a spiritual sequel that was based on a book of the same name.
Tags: Jumanji, Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, Jonathan Hyde, David Alan Grier, Kirsten Dunst, Bradley Pierce, Bebe Neuwirth, Adam Hann-Byrd, Laura Bell Bundy

Source: Wikipedia

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