Jumanji is a board game that releases jungle hazards into the real world. Despite its potential, it remains second to Monopoly in notoriety, perhaps because of the domestic disputes caused by Monopoly.
Those monkeys better not be doing what Judy thinks they're goddamn doing. But the smiles on their faces says it all.
Chris Van Allsburg (author of works such as Zathura and The Polar Express), an author, hit on an interesting premise when he wrote the book which was to become Jumanji, a Caldecott Award Winner (Caldecott here meaning 'something you will never win').
The premise was to take one childhood pastime (read: a board game), combine it with another childhood pastime (read: screwing with dangerous objects and situations), and mix it in with a motif that would disguise the scent of childhood endangerment. The result was Jumanji.
It's not like they haven't faced anything worse before.
The book tells the tale of two siblings, Peter and Judy, who find a board game called "Jumanji: A Jungle Adventure Game." Deciding to play it, they learn that every time they roll the dice, the square they land on produces a message that comes true. To be fair, the game decides to let them off easy and brings out a freaking lion.
"You idiots should have played Pictionary."
Being a total, total, bastard of a game, the instructions in Jumanji tell that the only time everything brought out by the game returns is when all the players finish the game. Peter and Judy, having faced a lion, decide that whatever danger is there can stay there, cut their losses and call animal control.
Just kidding! They continue playing, thereby releasing more wild animals in the vicinity of their home. They deal with a horde of monkeys, a rhino stampede, a python, and a typhoon before Judy wins the game. Luckily, all the property damage caused by the game vanishes, sparing the siblings from a six-month stint in Ultimate Detention.
As shown here.
Although that particular error can be forgiven (they are children after all), the siblings decide to leave Jumanji where they found it, to be easily found by another person.
No, no! Don't leave that there! Burn it or something! Someone might-
Which immediately happens.
After Peter and Judy leave the box containing Jumanji under the tree in the park where they found it, two boys named Walter and Danny find the box and discover another board game with a similar reality-warping effect (this time with an outer space theme), ether-induced name, and thirst for the fear of children: Zathura.
"Alright, it's my turn - I'll just take my piece here then and...ohhhhhhh crap."
"911? Hi. Yes, there appears to be a massive rhino stampede down the road. Also, it appears to have been caused by a giant Robin Williams, holding something that looks like....Jumanju? If you could just send someone here...thanks."
Tristar Pictures released a film based on the book, with a title the same as that of the book, which is only logical. The movie began with a prequel to Peter and Judy's story, when a boy named Alan Parrish stumbles upon the board game. 'Stumble upon' being defined as ' trespassing and digging through a construction site and breaking open a locked chest to find the board game'.
"What? This? Oh, oh...I found it. Yeah, totally stumbled upon it, just like that."
After a domestic dispute caused by some forgettable plot device involving bow ties, bullies, and a shoe factory, Alan attempts to run away from home, but not before trying to hook up with his crush, Sarah Whittle, by asking her to play a board game. It goes about as well as expected.
"Hey, babe, I got four houses at the Boardwalk and a hotel at Park Place. Wanna join me for dinner? "
Jumanji, sensing it is being used for one of the most pathetic pick-up moves ever, decides to get its revenge by sucking Alan into the game, trapping him inside the game for the rest of his pre-pubescent life. It seems that if used properly, Jumanji ruins childhoods more efficiently than making a child watch three successive Saw movies.
Above: a weak disciplinary tool.
A few (specifically, twenty-six) years later, Judy and Peter find the board game when they move into Alan's old house. After playing the game, they release poison mosquitoes, rabid monkeys, a lion and Alan Parrish, who because of the cursed jungle has been transformed into a wild-man Robin Williams. It should be noted that each of these four are potentially dangerous to humans, Jumanji or no Jumanji.
Case in point for fourth example.
Alan decides to visit Sarah Whittle, persuading her to play the game again in order to finish it, proving that twenty-six years in a jungle does not do wonders for your mental health. The four face an enormous ton of more awful, awful bullshit released by Jumanji, such as man-eating vines, typhoons, crocodiles, and a British hunter, Van Pelt, which proves to be the most dangerous thing released by the game.
Ahhhhh! Stereotypical British hunter!
Of course, no jungle board game movie would be complete with the mandatory animal rampage. Jumanji satisfies the hell out of this demographic by showing rhinoceros stampedes...
...and more of the aforementioned.
Including elephants stomping the crap out of everything in sight was one of the highlights of the film, although it would have been better if Tri-Star released a movie showing one-and-a-half hours of jungle animals stomping things, it would have made 200 million at the drop of a hat.
Above: The ticket line for the 1950's hit Jungle Animals Stomping Things V, in its seventh week.
The game finally ends when Robin Williams manages to win the game, and everything brought out by Jumanji (the stampedes, the hunters, the man eating vines) is sucked back into the game, including everything that happened to Alan during the twenty-six years in the jungle.
Even his mighty beard was sucked back in time.
Alan, once more a child, resolves to become a better person and with the help of Sarah, destroys the Jumanji by burning it, thus ending the perils of the game forever.
Flamethrower to piece of wood. Your move.
Kidding! They throw the board game into a river, not caring about how the currents might tear the rope bindings made by their clumsy little-child hands. At the end of the movie, two girls spot the board game washed up near a beach, with Jumanji ready to spread its reign of terror once more.
"Muhuhahahahahahahaha! Seriously, you idiots should just play Pictionary."
With the relative success of the movie, it was decided that the time was ripe for a Jumanji TV series, and was produced by UPN in 1996. Slated as a kid's show, it changed the storyline of the movie, with Jumanji displaying a clue for the players to solve, then sending said players into the jungle until they figure out the clue.
Wouldn't it be easier for the game to spell out how much it hates kids?
The TV series had engaging storylines, varied characters, and quite possibly an entrant for the most Diaper-Shitting Opening and Closing Credits for a Children's TV Series (Ages 4-6).
For a children's series, the first six seconds of Jumanji's opening credits are dedicated to making young viewers regress their potty-training skills.
For those who didn't check the video, the following comprises the first six seconds of the credits. Of particular notice is the third item below: it's a Jumanji gazelle. Look at its angry, angry face. You can't go wrong with a supposedly peaceful gazelle who now looks like it came from the bowels of Hell.
"Wow, it's the jungle...wow what is thatOHMYGODMOMMMMMYYY" (Cue wailing and gnashing of teeth)
None can deny the valuable service the animated series does for its viewers, though. Jumanji teaches lessons about life throughout its episodes, such as learning to follow instructions, value the friendships you have, and most importantly, don't fuck with Jumanji.
Jumanji: "You again! How many times do I - dammit, I'll just send you to the jungle. Enjoy getting eaten, kiddos."
In conclusion, Jumanji can be summed up as thus: learn to obey the rules, or else, elephant stampedes
Moral of the story - now in a convenient video format!