Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of THE UPSIDE

The Upside, rated PG-13
*** ½

The Upside is an enjoyable film based on a true story about the friendship between two men, one in a wheelchair and the other his caregiver. The film is directed by Neil Burger (Divergent, The Illusionist). The screenplay is written by Jon Hartmere based on the 2011 French film Les Intouchables directed by Eric Toldedano and Olivier Nakache. The film features a strong cast, including an Oscar winner and an Oscar nominee and was shot in Philadelphia.The film is set in New York City. Dell, played by Kevin Hart (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), is an African American, street smart, ex-con. He has been kicked out of his apartment after failing to provide for his ex-girlfriend Latrice, played by Aja Naomi King (The Birth of a Nation), and their teenage son. He has all but given up hope in finding a job. Continue reading

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My Review of JUMANJI: Welcome to the Jungle

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, rated PG-13
***

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is an action comedy that is very entertaining, but has some mild content concerns, and will be too scary for very young viewers. The film is directed by Golden Globe nominee Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story), and the screenplay is written by Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg. The film is considered a sequel to the 1995 film starring Robin Williams.
The film opens in 1996. A man finds a Jumanji board game on the beach. He takes it home to his teenage son and overnight the board game turns into a video game version. The movie then fast-forwards twenty years. Four teens, two boys and two girls are serving detention after school in a Bratford, New Hampshire high school. The school principal instructs them to clean up a storage room. As they begin to do so they come upon the Jumanji video game, and they plug it in. Rather than cleaning the room, the teens decide to play the game, with each picking one of the game’s avatars. Instantly, they find themselves transported to the Jumanji jungle (the jungle scenes were filmed in Hawaii), where they show up as the avatar they chose.
This is all played for laughs as the nerdy Spencer is now in the muscular body of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Dr. Smolder Bravestone; the female Instagram loving Bethany is now in the body of Jack Black as Professor Shelly Oberon; the muscular football player Fridge finds himself in the body of Kevin Hart as Franklin Finbar; and the smart non-fun-loving Martha becomes Ruby Roundhouse, a commando in the body of Karen Gillan.  One of the game’s characters is not available since there are just the four teens.  Will it be used later?  You’ll have to watch and see.
The objective of the game that has come to life is that the four teens are to find a giant glowing emerald that has been stolen, and return it to the forehead of a huge jaguar that has been carved out of a mountain. This would free Jumanji of a curse.
To accomplish this, the four have to work as a team and finish the game if they have any chance of getting back home. To do so, they have to overcome a number of obstacles (snakes, vicious men on motorcycles, hippos, etc.) put in their path by villain Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale). Each of the characters has three bars tattooed on their wrists, signifying that they have three lives. Each of the characters also has special powers. However, all but one of the characters also has a weakness.
I found this film to be extremely funny, especially as you see the actors playing against their own type. Jack Black had to be my favorite character, as Bethany transformed into a fat middle-aged man.
There are some concerns however. There are a number of profanities that are certainly not needed, almost all of them coming from Kevin Hart’s character, along with an abuse of Jesus’ name. It also has some anatomical humor and sexuality played for laughs.  Themes include courage, working as a team and sacrifice.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is very entertaining, but not quite family friendly.