The Pitch

A mysterious board game wreaks havoc on an entire town.

Age Recommendations

Watch With the Kids: 9+ Common Sense Media: 10+

Content Advisories

Rated PG for menacing fantasy action and some mild language. Intense action and danger, via animal and plant attack, monsoon, earthquake, stampede, and a hunter with an elephant gun. A boy stands up to bullies and get a face full of bruises to show for it. Children lying to adults. Dated digital effects.

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05.31.14

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The book had a sequel, Zathura. They made a movie from that.

Who designed this game?

Roll the dice, bad things happen. Roll the dice again. Jumanji the game (and Jumanji the movie) delivers an unrelenting avalanche of terrible things happening to innocent people, a narrative structure that ten years later would evolve into a subgenre of horror films I personally tend to avoid. At the time critics complained about the shallow character development and muddled storyline—is it about a boy who discovers the game and is magically whisked to the jungle, or is it about the kids who find and continue the game two decades later?—and labeled the movie an empty exercise in special effects. Even Robin Williams barely registers here, as a frightened sad sack overwhelmed by time and giant crocodiles. But the film turned out to be smarter than its critics, in understanding that character motivation and family issues matter little when there are rhinos and elephants charging down on you and you need to GET OUT OF THE WAY. Kids may want to re-enact some of the set pieces, or to imagine Jumanji disasters of their own. Jumanji offers cinema at its most primal, pitched to the consciousness of a child. What would I do in that situation? What if that happened to me? You may not love watching it, but watching your kids see it for the first time will be something to behold. —Chris Ereneta

Edited & designed by Chris Ereneta. Suggestions, feedback, and rants welcome at watchwiththekids@gmail.com, @WatchWithKids, or on Facebook. More about this site.