Robin Williams left behind a rich legacy of family films on which children of the ’90s were practically raised — and one of his most memorable contributions is coming back to the small screen.
Sundance TV announced Wednesday it will broadcast Jumanji on Monday at 9 p.m. ET to commemorate Williams’ would-be 65th birthday on July 21. The legend died nearly two years ago on Aug. 11, 2014.
By now, the 1995 fantasy movie Jumanji is either beloved or forgotten, a truth I so cruelly learned during a recent conversation when excitement for the film’s 20th anniversary was as negligible as the rules on the side of a board game.
Children’s books are solitary places. Even great bizarro stuff like Roald Dahl’s or Maira Kalman’s anarchic works are one-to-one experiences between author and child, windows through which a kid can peer, alone, into other, more fanciful universes. Children’s movies, though, are two-hour experiments in socialization. Field trips to the multiplex involve bathroom lines, Gummi Bear highs, beleaguered parents, and an auditorium full of children braying at the screen like a prepubescent Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Jumanji (PG) The title refers to a magical board game: With each roll of the dice, a different species of jungle beast comes tearing through the room. Simulated by the same astonishingly three-dimensional computer technology that was used to create the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, the animals in Jumanji are far more threatening — quicker, louder, wilder — than real jungle animals. The filmmakers re-create safari beasts with wizardly finesse but can’t think of anything to do with them but zap you.
With the big holiday season upon us, Hollywood is stuffing movie theaters with everything a kid could want. The local multiplexes are filled with lots of toys (Toy Story), games (Jumanji), dogs (Balto), and trains (Money Train). Here to help sort through the naughty (Sudden Death) and the nice (Father of the Bride: Part II) is our gift to you: EW’s clip-and-save guide to the movies on your children’s wish list.
The title Jumanji (TriStar, PG) refers to a magical board game: With each roll of the dice, the pieces advance by themselves, and a different species of jungle beast comes tearing through the room. Bats fly in from the fireplace, chattering monkeys take over the kitchen, an angry herd of rhinos and elephants and zebras races through the hallways. (Where’s Ace Ventura when you really need him?)
Outside Hollywood, November and December are a time of good cheer, but in Tinseltown, ‘tis the season of fight or flight. As studios prepare to unveil their big holiday films, it’s time to eye the competition and decide whether to dig in their heels and brawl, or move to a lower-profile release date. Take Robin Williams’ Jumanji: The F/X-packed kid fantasy was to have opened Nov. 17 between Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura sequel and Disney’s Toy Story, until TriStar bumped it to Dec. 15. For big kids, Miramax’s Four Rooms switches from Oct. 6 to Nov.
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