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YMMV / Jumanji

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  • Adaptation Displacement: The movie is more well-known than the original book.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The game itself regarding how much Jumanji has control over the dice. One has to wonder if it has some direct control over the dice rolls as Judy and Peter would have been stuck had Peter not been lucky enough to roll a 5 to finally get Alan out of the jungle. The game purposefully makes it a 5 knowing that Judy and Peter would have been stuck.
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    • About Van Pelt. Is he perhaps a sociopath who hunts human beings just for pure sadism, or maybe he's a Noble Demon who just follows the game's rules and could also be redeemable if he had the chance? There's also another, infinitely more horrifying interpretation. What if Van Pelt was just another poor soul trapped in Jumanji like Alan was, but was either never rescued or was killed before finishing the game, leading to him becoming twisted into part of the game itself?
      • The animated series suggests the latter is certainly possible, as whoever kills Van Pelt risks taking his place.
      • Given his single-mindedness in targeting Alan and only Alan since he's the one who rolled the dice, he might not be a person in any meaningful sense; he could just be a construct created by the game with as much free will as a videogame enemy. This is given more credibility by the fact that he resembles Alan's father, making it possible that whomever Van Pelt's human quarry is, he will always be made by the game to resemble whomever that person has the most psychological damage in relation to.
      • Van Pelt is also on the box itself, depicted alongside an elephant, a monkey, and a rhino, the other "signature" threats of the game, implying that the Hunter is generated by the game itself just like the other threats.
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  • Critical Dissonance: Critically, it received mixed reviews, but you wouldn't know that based on how much of a favorite it was (and still is) with audiences.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Van Pelt is fondly remembered for his costume design, ambiguous origins and function within the game (see above), and Jonathan Hyde's delightful performance. He falls a bit short of Evil Is Cool what with getting outsmarted by preteens, but such is life sometimes.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Robin Williams believed that the movie is based on childrens' fear of being abandoned by their parents.
  • Fanfic Fuel: During the 20-plus years it took for the book to receive an official sequel, several readers came up with their own follow-ups. On the Zathura movie's DVD, Van Allsburg admits that receiving some of these in the mail helped him decide to share his own story about the boys, as he didn't actually write Jumanji's ending with the intent of giving them their own book.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • At the end of the book, Judy and Peter's neighbor Mrs. Budwig laments that her sons, Danny and Walter, often start games without finishing — shortly before the boys take Jumanji from the park. In the Zathura book, the game indeed gets cut short, but not because the boys lose interest in it; instead a black hole sucks up Walter before he can finish bringing Danny back to Earth (although after the black hole sends Walter back to the ending of Jumanji, he convinces Danny not to bring the game home at all).
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Robin Williams' character here has spent his whole life surviving in the jungle inside the game, without a toilet in sight; so when he finally sees one again after so long he's close-to-tears of joy for no longer resorting to "banana leaves". In 2006, his highly-urbanized character in RV is impressed with resorting to fern leaves, "nature's broom", during his family's outdoor adventure. The fact that his character on that film is probably just making an act and still hasn't experienced doing it out in the wild, and if such is the case then he doesn't really know what he's saying just adds to the humor. Also ironic because both movies were produced by Sony Pictures.
  • Misaimed Marketing: It was marketed as a nice, comedic family film starring Robin Williams, conveniently leaving out the traumatizing things that pervade the movie. Roger Ebert even criticized this, saying that more kids are now likely to see the movie not knowing that they're going to have the bejeezus scared out of them.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Narm: "You miserable coward, come back and face me like a man!" is hard to take seriously since it's implying that the unarmed Alan should take on Van Pelt, who's wielding a gun.
  • Narm Charm:
    • For many, the effects of the creatures nowadays could fall into Narm territory due to the CGI not aging well. However, it falls into the Narm Charm territory if one is to just assume that the reason the creatures look weird is because they're created from a magic board-game.
    • The statements given by the game whenever someone rolls are very often a Painful Rhyme...but they also manage to be genuinely creepy.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The kind old squatter living in Alan's father's office in the abandoned shoe factory who informs Alan on what happened to his father and the company following his disappearance.
  • Retroactive Recognition: It turns out Judy is a very young Kirsten Dunst.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • None of the CGI has aged well. However, the monkeys are arguably the most glaring example. They stood out even during the time of release due to their poorly rendered fur. Then again most of the animals (CGI or otherwise) have a slightly stylised look, as opposed to photo-realistic, so maybe they're supposed to look a little off.
    • The lion looks like a bad taxidermy job at best.
    • In a scene that shouldn't even have required special effects, when Van Pelt hands over the gold coins mentioned in Screw the Rules, I Have Money!, his arm and the coins falling have a very strange after-image look to them, as if they're made of sand.
      • Considering this happens a few times with Van Pelt as well as the animals, even the puppets, this could have been done on purpose to indicate that they aren't real and don't belong in our world. It's worth noting that when Jumanji is declared, Van Pelt begins to dissolve into a sand-like substance as he's pulled back into the game.
    • The spiders toward the end of the film. The film was dangerously close to going over-budget so they had to cut back and rely on puppets for the scene. It's incredibly obvious once they appear, especially since they move in a very jerky, wooden way. Never stops them from being any less terrifying... actually, it might make them even scarier, since it gives the impression that they're very unnatural spiders more dangerous than the norm.
    • Several times throughout the film, the game pieces will not be on their proper lanes. A prime example is when Alan opens the game for Sarah to see after they have reunited in the present, and you'll see, clear as day, that two pieces are on the same lane. Similarly the dice rolls do not coincide with where the game pieces should be on the game board. In fact, the game ends too early considering that a lot of the dice rolls are low and the rolls that aren't seen wouldn't be enough to make up the difference even if they rolled an eleven.note 
      • The blu-ray release of Jumanji features a gag reel. At one point, Robin Williams rolls the dice, removes a playing piece from its spot and places it somewhere else before telling a joke. So the game pieces jumping around has been solved: Robin Williams thought it was funny to mess with them and nobody bothered to put them back!
    • The Jumanji stampede destroys the front door of the Parrish house... only for it to be repaired when the group returns to the house.
      • Actually it destroys the side wall of a living room, not the front door. Though it still leaves a massive hole in the mansion... one can assume that the vines covered it up.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Carl and Nora for the most part stay as bystanders to the whole Jumanji fiasco despite their connections to the main cast. They could have been there to help out during the final rolls at the Parrish house, but Carl never returned after being swept away during the monsoon roll, and despite Nora returning, Peter ends up locking her in the closet for her own safety.
  • Uncanny Valley: Thanks to some special effects not aging well, almost all of the hazards of the game look a little... off. The fur on the monkeys, the jerky movements of the spiders, almost everything about the lion. However, this can occasionally make the creatures even more unsettling, making them look even more "not of this world".
  • Underused Game Mechanic: The gameboard has certain spaces where two lanes have to overlap. Whatever happens when two game pieces land on the same overlap spot is anyone's guess.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: To the point where it was lampshaded in the sequel. The idea of a cursed board game causing havoc to those who play it dates the film to before video games fully displaced board games as the group "play" activity of choice among kids, a point raised in the prologue to the sequel when Alex decides to pass on playing it in favor of his video games — causing the board game to transform into a video game cartridge instead.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Given all the frenetic energy and chaos we see spring forth from the game, this is very intense for a family movie. So much so that Roger Ebert himself was convinced children would be terrified of it.
  • The Woobie: Almost everyone, to a degree. Alan because he was sucked into the game; Sarah because she was called crazy for twenty-six years and spent 2000 hours in therapy; Judy and Peter because they lost their parents plus had to deal with the game, which nearly killed the former via poisonous plant barb and turned the latter into a monkey. Aunt Nora because heck, there's a lion in her bedroom and she's trying to do her best by two troubled kids while likely dealing with her own grief over their parents' deaths. Carl because well, the entire setting hates him. Kind of unavoidable, since the premise is Everything Trying to Kill You.
    • Sam can be considered a Jerkass Woobie, due to being a well meaning but cold father who never really showed Alan how much he truly loved him.
    • The fat short-legged rhino that doggedly lags behind the stampede, grunting and laboriously puffing along in its herd's wake, manages to achieve Woobie status without even getting a close-up.