I know, okay? I know that complaining about remakes and reboots and prequels and sequels is basically pointless now. Everyone’s bitched and moaned, and nothing has changed. But I pick this hill to die on. Don’t remake Jumanji. Please.
Yesterday we got the news that Jake Kasdan had been hired to direct the remake. Jake Kasdan is an okay director, but nothing in his filmography indicates that he has any experience or even interest in anything but comedies. The most prominent projects he’s done are New Girl, Bad Teacher, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. And while the original Jumanji was funny, it wasn’t a comedy. And any version of its story is going to have to include a lot of effects and at least a few action sequences. Which is, again, not something I’m seeing a lot of in Kasdan’s background.
I really, really don’t want a Jumanji that is conceived of, from the start, as a comedy. The original was surreal and had a number of dark concepts and undertones that made it great. The funny moments it had were accent notes, not the whole story. The frantic attempt to beat the game and save everyone was the story.
A remake of Jumanji is also a weird notion in the first place. It did fine at the box office, but it didn’t break any records. Most reviewers, and ordinary moviegoers, saw it as... basically average. There’s some nostalgic love for it, but not nearly enough to bank on. The core appeal of the original was Robin Williams’ performance. Does anyone really think they can top (or even equal) it? This is a terrible idea.
Let’s also not forget that the studio behind this is Sony Pictures, which has struggled to reach success with family-friendly action-adventure franchises like Goosebumps, Pixels—oh, and the Spider-Man films. They’re rushing this remake through, with a release date of December 25, 2016. And the director was just named yesterday. If they stick to that, Jumanji’s going to have a shorter turn around than Jem and the Holograms. And look how great that turned out.
The idea is, as it always is, to update the premise for the modern day. If Jumanji turns into a fucking app, I swear to god I will punch someone. Possibly the slow, fat rhino that will be last out of my phone. But I think we all know that a lazy remake of a movie about a board game is going to go the “crazy kids and their crazy technology” route. If it’s not an app, I guarantee the kids are forced to play it because someone pried smartphones out of their freakishly strong child grips. Both ideas are awful.
So here’s an idea: let’s not remake Jumanji. Let’s just let the original live on in our memories. Okay?
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