|Directed by||:||Jake Kasdan||Produced by||:||Matt Tolmach, William Teitler||Story by||:||Chris McKenna||Starring||:||Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale||Production company||:||Gyula Pados.||Distributed by||:||Sony Pictures, Entertainment|
Looking for a lively, wholesome movie to see with the family this holiday season? The obvious choice is The Greatest Showman, the musical that demonstrates how circus impresario P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) didn’t exploit “freaks” by charging people money to point at them and jeer — he actually gave them a sense of self-worth! My colleague Emily Yoshida dissects the “incredibly specious empowerment metaphor holding up this rinky-dink tent” with painful accuracy — and should get combat pay for attempting to transcribe the numbskull lyrics. Move on to the next screen at the multiplex (plug your ears if you’re passing The Greatest Showman) and see Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The movie has amusingly broad performances; good, bloodless scares (the characters die horribly — but have multiple lives); and self-empowering life lessons too bland to be specious. You could do far worse.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel to and not a remake of the agreeable 1995 Jumanji (starring Robin Williams and the young Kirsten Dunst) based on Chris Van Allsburg’s wonderful 1981 book. In the 1995 film, players of the mysterious board game Jumanji found their reality invaded by sundry animal, human, and insect predators. In the 21st-century version, four very different kinds of teenagers in detention — yes, it’s a Breakfast Club redux — get whisked into a jungle cyberworld where they find themselves inhabiting wildly inapposite avatars.