When four high-school kids discover an old video game console with a game they've never heard of--Jumanji--they are immediately drawn into the game's jungle setting, literally becoming the avatars they chose: gamer Spencer becomes a brawny adventurer (Dwayne Johnson); football jock Fridge loses (in his words) 'the top two feet of his body' and becomes an Einstein (Kevin Hart); popular girl Bethany becomes a middle-aged male professor (Jack Black); and wallflower Martha becomes a badass warrior (Karen Gillan). What they discover is that you don't just play Jumanji--you must survive it.
Mostly great fun, with Jack Black outrageously entertaining as a teenage girl. But we need to talk about Karen. As Ruby Roundhouse, Gillan is stuck in less clothes than one of Rihanna's backing dancers.
Like a video game, the narrative lacks any character development, relying on obstacles, chases, and the threat of elimination. Hart delivers his one-liners with precision and verve, and Johnson is sweetly funny as the muscular incarnation of a gawky nerd.
But what the film lacks in depth, it balances in detail. Black's soft - but not comically squeaky - voice gives Bethany the soul she lacked in hot girl form, back when all the screenwriters could think of to have her do was take selfies.