Which Jumanji movie is better, the original or the remake?
According to RottenTomatoes, the answer is pretty clear cut. The original has a score of just 50% from the critics and 62% from the audience while the remake has a 76% from the critics and a 90% from the audience.
The original was released in 1995, when I was just 7 years old. It was directed by Joe Johnston, who also was the man behind Honey I Shrunk the Kids, The Rocketeer, October Sky, & Captain America the First Avenger. The remake, Welcome to the Jungle, was directed by Jake Kasdan, son of Lawrence Kasdan who wrote Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Jake directed Orange County (with Jack Black and Colin Hanks who are both in Jumanji), Walk Hard, Bad Teacher, and Sex Tape. I think the keys to the significant differences between these two films lies in the brains of the men who directed them.
Johnston has a knack for emotionally powerful family films and the original Jumanji reflects that. It is written, shot, paced, and edited like a horror movie! The main characters are linked by their shared suffering and loneliness. The two children’s parents died in a tragic car accident, Bonnie Hunt has been an outcast deemed insane by her own community, and Robin Williams has been stuck in the game all on his own for over 20 years! These four are then forced to play a game that unleashes an onslaught of horrific creatures, hunters, and natural disasters that are aggressively trying to kill anyone they see. Are the heroes in the remake in as much danger? Sort of, but they have three lives — not to mention that every time they lose one it is laugh out loud funny.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a far funnier movie than its predecessor, there is no argument there and much of that credit is due to Kasdan’s knack for adult comedies. While the original did have Robin Williams, it was more of a Good Will Hunting Williams as opposed to a Mrs. Doubtfire Williams. This is the major reason for the success of the remake. It was a movie geared towards adults that kids are allowed to watch. There was just enough comedy, sex appeal, and action to keep both generations hooked. The original on the other hand may have been too scary for a lot of kids and too childish for a lot of adults.
With all of that in mind, here is my opinion. Yes, I understand why the remake is having so much success. Personally, I loved it. My wife Kate and I had an absolute blast. However, I prefer the original. Chalk it up to nostalgia if you want, but I simply find it more interesting. The new Jumanji felt like every other comedy that comes out now, just really well executed. The original is totally unique. It’s dark, it’s weird, and it stars one of the greatest actors who had ever lived — yes, I truly believe Robin Williams was one of the most talented actors of all time. Also, I LOVE practical effects and the original Jumanji has some of the best I have ever seen.
What about you? Which one did you like better and why?