Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Jumanji is a 1995 American fantasy-adventure-comedy film directed by Joe Johnston and based on Chris Van Allsburg's popular 1981 children's book of the same name. Expensive, state-of-the-art computer graphics and animatronics were employed by Industrial Light & Magic for the special effects sequences. The film stars Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, Bonnie Hunt, and Bradley Pierce. It was followed by an animated television series that ran from 1996 to 1999 and a Spiritual Successor, Zathura, in 2005.

The story is about the titular supernatural and ominous board game which makes animals and other jungle hazards appear upon each roll of the dice. In 1969, after fleeing from some bullies, a boy named Alan discovers the board game in a construction site where it was buried 100 years prior. Later that day, just as he is about to run away from home to avoid going to boarding school, his friend Sarah shows up and together they start playing the game. However, the game acts strange and upon his first move, Alan is trapped inside.

Cut to 1995 when two orphans named Judy (Dunst) and Peter (Pierce) move into Alan's old house to live with their aunt. While exploring the house, they come upon Jumanji in the attic of the house. The game, still unfinished from twenty-five years ago, retains the moves made by the first players. After getting attacked by several monstrous animals, Peter rolls the dice to free a now adult Alan (Williams) from the inside of the game. Seeking out the help of a now adult Sarah (Hunt), the group decides to play through the entire game and set things back to the way they used to be.

The film was followed up by an animated series produced by Klasky-Csupo (of Rugrats and Rocket Power fame). Clearly not a direct sequel to the movie, the premise actually had that when Judy and Peter played the game they would be given a riddle to solve (sometime involving An Aesop) and they would be transported into the Jumanji jungle that Alan resided in for years. While the kids would be transported back upon solving their riddle, Alan's riddle has never been solved and he remains trapped. So the kids risk their own lives continually playing the game to help Alan leave Jumanji.

Tropes used in Jumanji include:
  • Adaptation Expansion: Big time. The original book was about 30 pages long.
  • Anachronism Stew: Van Pelt, being a European colonialist from the 19th century.
    • On the other hand, the first time we see the game is in the 19th century.
  • Anti-Villain: Van Pelt, type I. When he buys a new gun he hilariously overpays for it, so he's at least somewhat law-abiding, and has shades of Affably Evil ("Good lad, you're finally acting like a man.") He even plays with the idea of Never Hurt an Innocent--though he at one point has a clear shot of the other characters fleeing from him, Van Pelt instead shoots loose the rack of tires in front of them to knock them over. He also mentions outright to Sarah that he could have shot her at any time, but "she didn't roll the dice, Alan did".
  • And You Were There: Alan's father and Great White Hunter Van Pelt are played by the same actor.
  • Artifact of Doom: Though it is not specifically malevolent, the Jumanji board game has the power to release appropriately-themed hazards into the real world.
    • In the animated series, however, it appears to be deliberately malevolent.
  • Aside Glance: Peter goes out to the shed to find the axe, only to find it locked. Frantically, he looks for something to break the lock with. He sees the axe lying on the side of the shed. He picks it up and starts bashing the lock with it, then suddenly stops and looks at the camera, realizing his goal is already in his hands.
  • Badass: Admit it, Van Pelt may be a gunman, but he's probably the only character in the story that is an unmistakable threat. While most of the other jungle animals follow their instincts, Van Pelt is the most intelligent since he is a human and thus the one that poses the most danger.
  • Babies Ever After: In the epilogue, Sarah is heavily pregnant with their first child.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Peter's penalty for attempting to cheat is to be slowly transformed into a monkey (the same as his game token).
  • Ballistic Discount: Subverted. The shopkeeper is dull-witted enough to let Van Pelt (hunter of the most dangerous game) have a rifle and ammunition and load it to test on the "OPEN/CLOSED" sign, but Van Pelt, who does have his honor, merely buys the gun, ammo, and a scope.
    • Although being offered a functional antique elephant gun as a trade-in along with a satchel of gold coins as payment is a rather appealing temptation (until both are sucked back into the game).
  • Bat Out of Hell
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies
  • Big No: At the end when Alan and Sarah find out that the Sheperds' parents are going on a ski-trip, because it was previously mentioned that they died there.
    • Also when Sarah wakes from the shock of seeing the now adult (and alive) Alan. Several 'No's.
  • Butt Monkey: Carl - or more accurately, his car. Also Peter, who literally turns into a monkey.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When the deadly plants are summoned in the house, Alan explicitly mentions two types to look out for: One that shoots poisonous barbs and one that attempts to swallow its prey. The latter type immediately attempts to swallow Peter and is thwarted, and the plants aren't referred to again from that point... until one of the final scenes of the movie, when the former type comes out of the floor as Judy is recovering the game board and shoots her. She finally admits as she lies dying that she misses her parents.
  • Chronically Crashed Car: Carl's car.
  • Crapsack Town: The town Judy and Peter move to following the incident in 1969.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: A monkey jumps out of the back seat of Nora's car and it startles her so much that she runs into a ditch.
  • Darkest Africa: The world inside the game seems to be a Flanderized mix of this and Sim Sim Salabim.
  • Defictionalization: A Jumanji board game was released when the movie came out. It shared many elements with the game in the movie, aside from the sucking-in-small-children thing.
    • As far as we know.
    • It also used cards, not even attempting to copy the magic-8 ball style interface.
      • Came full-circle again when Zathura came out, and used cards.
  • Death World: The world inside the game itself isn't shown, but it must be something close to this.
  • Did You See That Too: Monkeys on a motorbike. This is especially significant, because the incident involving Alan has already put Sara in psychotherapy. Judy basically proves that Sara is still sane, and the latter is thankful.
  • Dramatic Irony: Peter and Judy's motivation for playing the game is to "make it all go away" before their aunt gets back and sees the house wrecked. No one, least of all them, realizes that, given that they're playing a game decades old, "it all" includes them. Luckily history goes normally and they're born anyway, with the now in-the-know Alan and Sarah there to stop their parents from dying.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: Van Pelt enjoys hunting challenging wild game, but if he gets bored, he will hunt people with equal gusto. Off-screen, Alan had had a few run-ins with him in the jungle, and is suitably frightened when Van Pelt is rolled up as a jungle hazard.

Alan Parrish: [terrified] "A hunter from the darkest wild... makes you feel just like a child."

Peter: You killed her.

  • The Game Plays You: The Movie!
  • The Game Come to Life: See above.
  • Genre Savvy: Van Pelt is fully aware that he is a character from a board game. When he's told his elephant gun has been out of commission for about ninety years he doesn't bat an eyelid, nor is he worried by the fact that he seems to be wandering around in the wrong century. He even knows that he is meant to hunt Alan purely because Alan rolled the dice for him.
    • His answer when Sarah asks him why he didn't shoot her: "You didn't roll the dice. Alan did."
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In the Spanish dub, the gun store owner asks Van pelt if he's a cheated husband.
  • Hello Again, Officer: Poor Officer Bentley...
  • Here We Go Again: The film ends with two French girls walking on the beach hearing the strange drumming. We find the game washed up on the sands, presumably about to be found by those girls.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sarah attempts one to save Alan.
  • Hide Your Children: Painfully averted. The players of the first round are children, obviously; in the second round, a pair of pre-teen siblings are added.
  • High Concept
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Van Pelt.
  • Hypocritical Humor: At first Alan didn't want to play the game again, but realize he has to when his piece is still on the board. Then he convinced a reluctant Sarah to play as well. Then after Van Pelt got out of the game, Judy believed he was the reason why he didn't want to play. This made Sarah angry.

Sarah: You didn't wanna play either, Mr. We-started-something-twenty-six-years-ago-and-now-we-gotta-finish-it?

Stop your cringing, woman; I could have shot you at any moment.

  • Irony: When the jungle creepers first show up, Judy comments that the poisonous barb-shooting flowers are beautiful. Later in the movie one of them shoots her in the neck with its barbs.
    • Van Pelt announces that since he's got Sarah as bait, Alan should be arriving at any minute. Even as he says these words, Alan and Carl are arriving in Carl's trashed cop car. They collide with a tower of paint cans, which fall on him.
  • I See Them, Too: The monkeys on the motorbike.
  • I Will Find You: When Alan tries to find his family, he learns that his father abandoned the business and devoted the rest of his life searching for him.
  • I Wish It Was Real: ...No, you don't. You really, really don't.
  • It Can Think: When the young Alan and Sarah first play.

Young Alan: Uh, oh. The game thinks I rolled...
Young Sarah: What do you mean "the game thinks"?

  • It Got Worse: Things start off fairly tame (no pun intended), with only small things such as a cloud of bats, a scourge of mosquitoes (though see the Adult Fear on the Nightmare Fuel page), a troop of monkeys, a single lion. But then they escalate to carnivorous plants, a hunter that won't quit, an entire stampede that takes over and destroys the town, a monsoon that floods the town, and an earthquake that splits the house apart. One can only wonder what the game would have released next to top itself if Alan hadn't won when he did...
    • Lampshaded in Sarah's final rhyme: "You're almost there with much at stake/But now the ground begins to quake..."
  • Jerkass: Alan was being harsh on Peter after the pelican took the game. While he was chasing it, he screamed to Peter why didn't he grab it before because he was close to it. After Peter grabbed the game from falling in the waterfall, Alan just have him a flat "thanks." Then Alan becomes more angry when he transformed for trying to cheat. When he noticed Peter was crying, he tells him to stop crying and wise up like a man. That's when he realized he was sounding just like his father and apologizes. However, Peter tells him he's not crying because Alan was yelling at him, but that he started to grow a tail.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Alan's father Sam Parrish, and Alan himself as an adult.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: Hasn't anybody ever tried separating the pieces?
    • Probably. But the pieces will spring to the board just by taking them out, and rolling the dice always counts as a move. The players are probably afraid of starting another game just by opening the box.
    • Why not just cut the damn thing in half without even opening the box?
    • Or throw it in a volcano?
    • Probably it cannot be destroyed in anyway. Likely someone learned it the hard way when someone tries to smash it with an axe, not only does the axe gets shattered but the board doesn't even move.
  • Large Ham: Van Pelt, anytime.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The rules of the game are clear, and breaking those rules result in a punishment. They must play the game and deal with the hazards as they come. Van Pelt explained this somewhat when stating that his mission was to hunt Alan, not the other players.
    • Though collateral damage to the rest of the town -- and presumably the surrounding area if the animals keep going before the game ends -- seems to just fine.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Even though the players tried to remain still, it still grabbed one of them.
  • Mental Time Travel: At the end.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: Alan in 1969. Subverted -- the game's completion, undoes everything that happened when the game began in 1969, allowing Alan to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Justified. The jungle that the Jumanji world is composed of is not a real-world environment, but a fantastical, magical creation of the game, hence all sorts of misplaced wildlife spring from it. For instance, Pelicans, lions, rhinos, zebra and elephants all don't live in the jungle.
  • My Greatest Failure: Sarah, having abandoned Alan to the jungle for 26 years. She did try to tell people what happened at first, but no one believed her (and presumably thought her crazy), so she gave up trying to tell anyone and pretended it never happened. She makes up for it in the end.
  • Never Smile At a Crocodile: When the monsoon floods Alan's house, the protagonists are attacked by a crocodile, so Alan fights it and miraculously survives. It's sucked out into the street when the front door is broken up and swims past Carl, scaring him to no end.
  • Noble Demon: Van Pelt won't shoot Carl to get to Alan, or hurt Sarah or the children to attract him. He's bound by the rules of the game, and he knows it.

Van Pelt: Stop your cringing, woman. I could have shot you at any moment.
Sarah: Then why didn't you?
Van Pelt: You didn't roll the dice. Alan did.

Peter Come on, Judy. We don't need him. He's afraid.
Alan: What did you say?
Peter: I said that you're afraid. It's okay to be afraid.
Judy: Will you help us?
Alan: I'll watch... I'm not afraid.

  • No Fair Cheating: Jumanji really, really doesn't like it when people cheat.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Alan's description of the time he spend in the jungle is pretty unsettling.

"You think that mosquitoes, monkeys, and lions are bad? That is just the beginning. I've seen things you've only seen in your nightmares. Things you can't even imagine. Things you can't even see. There are things that hunt you in the night. Then something screams. Then you hear them eating, and you hope to God you aren't dessert. Afraid? You don't know what afraid is."

  • Not Proven: When Alan disappeared, it was rumored his father killed him and avoided conviction by hiding the corpse. Some even believed Mr. Parrish destroyed the "corpse" and hid the pieces around the mansion.
  • Not So Different: Alan hated his father for trying to get him to grow up fast. But halfway through the film, he started to act like him towards Peter.
    • Alan and Sarah, comparing their experiences of the past 26 years.
  • Not So Harmless: When we see the pelican, it seems almost like a joke. It stops being funny when it grabs the game.
  • Out of Time, Out of Mind: When the game is finished, Alan and Sarah return to the past, becoming children once again in the process.
  • Ominous Crack: Alan, Judy, and Peter take refuge from a mosquito (it had a four inch long needle, was the size of a pigeon, and was carrying a deadly and unknown disease) in a car. It starts tapping on the windshield with no effect prompting Alan, "See he can't break through the glass." This is followed by a large crack as the mosquito tries again.
  • Parental Substitute: Aunt Nora. As the game progresses, Alan and Sarah fulfill this role too.
  • Parting Words Regret: Alan has a nasty argument with his father before playing the game, vowing never to speak to him again. Alan then spends twenty-six years in the jungle and when he finally gets out, he learns his father died after 20+ years of searching for him. After finally winning the game, Alan is returned to five minutes after that argument and immediately apologizes when he sees his father.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Van Pelt. He's only playing his role as part of the game.
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: "Harvest Time!"
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Jumanji!"
  • Quicksand Sucks: "Beware the ground on which you stand, the floor is quicker than the sand!"
  • Reality Subtext: The gun shop owner asking Van Pelt if he's a postal worker. Around the time of the movie, there had been a lot of news stories about postal workers going crazy and shooting up their workplaces, from which we get the expression "going postal."
  • Reset Button: Finishing the game, so powerful it can even reverse time.
  • Running Gag: The fat, grunting rhino who keeps falling farther and farther behind the rest of the stampede.
  • Scenery Gorn: The Parrish mansion is thoroughly trashed by the end of the movie. The town itself is not in much better shape.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money: Van Pelt has to buy a new gun after he learns the ammo for his hasn't been made since the early 1900s. When presented with the thick stack of paperwork and told of the 72-hour waiting period for purchasing a new gun, Van Pelt counter offers a handful of gold coins. No further questions are asked.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Van Pelt when he's knocked into camp equipment at high speed.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The game was buried for 100 years, before Alan digs it up.
    • And was up in the Perrish's attic for 26 years.
    • Sealed Good in a Can: Alan being trapped in the jungle.
  • Sequel Hook: Not quite for a direct sequel, but the final scene in the movie is showing the game washing ashore and other people coming across it.
    • Though seeing as it washed up in France, any sequel would presumably have to go to some trouble to not be subtitled the whole way through.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Alan and Sarah are inadvertently given the opportunity to do this when the game ends, as the entire timeline rewinds to 1969, giving Alan the chance to make up with his father, save Carl's job, and even eventually stop Peter and Judy's parents from going on the skiing trip that they would have died en route to (even though he was never actually told enough about them to be able to track them down, not even their names).
  • Shout-Out: The idea of the villain being played by the same actor as the protagonist's father comes from productions of Peter Pan, where Hook is almost always acted/voiced by the person who plays Mr Darling. Doubles as an Actor Allusion for Robin Williams, who played Peter Pan in Hook.
    • Of course, in general, both Peter's father and Van Pelt are Alan's enemies (Van Pelt literally, Alan's father being such a Jerkass.) That idea of having the villain of two parallel universes played by the same actor goes back to Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch/Miss Gulgh in the Wizard of Oz.
  • Technology Marches On: Referenced when they start playing the game in 1969, with Sarah remarking that the self-moving pieces must be done with magnets. When the kids continue the game in 1995, Judy suggests it's done with microchips, which actually makes less sense.
    • Plus, Carl proudly showing off his prototype for a modern basketball shoe.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted; shortly after the kids and Alan contact Sarah for the first time, she claims she spent over two thousand hours in therapy after the first incident.
  • There Will Be Toilet Paper: When Alan, who has been trapped in the board game for 26 years, finally shaves for the first time, he has cuts all over his face when he's through.

Judy Shepherd: What happened to you? You shave with a piece of glass?
Alan Parrish: What happened to you? The Clampetts have a yard sale? What do you want? I never shaved before.

  • Tired of Running: Alan, towards the end of the film.
  • Toilet Humour: After living in a jungle for 26 years the first thing Alan does when he gets back into his house is head for the bathroom, stare at the toilet for a moment, and then mutter, "Oh, thank you. No more banana leaves."
  • Took a Level in Badass: 26 years of surviving in a nightmare jungle appropriately do this for Alan. Billy Jessup probably won't seem so tough next time around.
  • Watch the Paint Job: Officer Bentley's brand new police car gets increasingly damaged throughout the movie until it is finally swallowed by a giant plant.

[after a big vine has swiped Carl's car]
Carl Bentley: Fine! Take it!

  • Weapons That Suck: The board game, first when it traps Alan in the jungle, and finally when it recalls all the hazards that it had produced.
  • What Year Is This?: Alan, after being released from the jungle after twenty-six years.
    • Subverted, as Carl believes he's asking about the car that Alan just jumped on, saying "It was brand new."
  • Wiper Start: Alan, trying to start a car to get away from giant mosquitoes, accidentally lowers the convertible's roof instead. Oops.
  • Yellow Brick Road: You finish the game or die trying. That's how it works.