There is a a few movies that feel like family movie night mainstays. Whether on VHS, DVD or streaming, families often come back to the same stories over generations – The sound of music, The princess to be marriedcountless Disney movies.
But there is often one thing missing from these films: genuine sci-fi terror. This 1995 film, streaming on Netflix through March 31, changed everything by trusting kids to handle certain life-or-death scenarios live, earning it a permanent spot on Canon’s Movie Night.
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Jumanji was directed by Joe Johnston, now known for Captain America: The First Avenger and Jurassic Park 3. It’s been given a second life as an action-adventure franchise thanks to a star-studded cast that includes Dwayne Johnson and Jack Black. But nothing beats the original, a film that took on the practical effects of other 90s films like Jaws and jurassic parkbut brought back the horror and added a story the whole family could enjoy.
The film follows a mystical board game known as Jumanji, a seemingly normal game with supernatural consequences. Over the decades, the game must be played to its end in order to protect the world.
With a cast with names like Kirsten Dunst, Robin Williams and Bonnie Hunt, there’s no shortage of stars, but the real strength is in the story. Unlike the low-stakes movies of the 80s, this film allowed kids to face real threats like lions, giant mosquitoes, and fearsome hunters.
Jumanji understood something that very few movies at the time understood: when kids pretend, they’re not looking to embark on a grand romantic adventure. They want to face trials and tribulations that test their resolve and make them feel like heroes. Jumanji treated all of its audience, from parents to children, as human beings who need no contempt.
Even if you’ve seen this movie before, it’s the kind of multi-faceted story that relates to all of life’s moments. Perhaps you first talked about Peter, the young boy who finds himself transformed into an ape. But now you can find renewed relevance in Robin Williams’ tour de force performance as Alan Parrish, the boy trapped in the “inner world” of the game for over 20 years. The story may have a smaller scope, but to its audience it feels like an epic.
Additionally, in a post-multiverse world where timelines overlap and intersect in the MCU and DCEU, Jumanji’The complex tradition of s is strangely modern. By playing the game, characters are able to change timelines and avoid past tragedies – what kid doesn’t want to do that?
Jumanji is a cinematic treasure, but one that grows with you over time. As it’s leaving Netflix soon, check in with this timeless thriller before it’s too late. You may have just discovered a new love for a childhood classic.
Jumanji is streaming on Netflix until March 31.