Robin Williams joked on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno that "Jumanji" was the name of a Jewish-Italian restaurant. This sort of intellectual humour makes its appearance every so often in the movie. However, it is primarily the action involving the animals which provides most of the comic relief in Williams' latest outing.
The plot is pretty simple and innovative: Jumanji is the name of a game which, when played, has real-life consequences. These consequences include slithering vines, mischievous monkeys, stampeding elephants and rhinos, giant spiders, monsoons, and human hunters. Williams plays the character of Alan Parrish, who is literally sucked into the game when playing it. Thought dead by his parents, he is lost in its confines until he is brought back by two new gameplayers, siblings Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce). The story is essentially about how Parrish and his new compatriots finally manage to win the game in the nick of time.
It's amazing to me how a story involving a board game could be so captivating. It is mostly due to Williams' performance that this is the case. I did become extremely impatient during the first part of movie which chronicles the story of the game, how Alan Parrish finds it, and how he gets lost in the jungle, and how it is found again by Judy and Peter. But once the effects of the game manifest themselves, the fun begins. I thought the kids were pretty cute and added to the plot. I had a few problems with both incarnations of Sarah (Bonnie Hunt), Alan Parrish's love interest, but I thought it all came together in the end.
The effects are fairly decent. The computer simulations of the monkeys, for example, are very unrealistic, but it works in a funny sort of way. The stampedes, especially when the animals run over cars, are pretty convincing. Movies in the past such as Jurassic Park have had much better computer effects. But to me it seemed like they weren't really trying very hard this time. The best part of the movie is great amount of action in it. All in all, it's a fun movie to watch.