Hurry! Robin Williams' best sci-fi adventure is leaving Netflix next week
“I've seen things you've only seen in your nightmares.”
There are a few films that feel like mainstays of family movie nights. Whether on VHS, DVD, or streaming, families often go back to the same stories over generations — The Sound of Music, The Princess Bride, countless Disney movies.
But there’s one thing often missing from these movies: Genuine sci-fi terror. This 1995 movie, streaming on Netflix until March 31, changed everything by trusting kids to handles some live-action life-or-death scenarios, earning it a permanent place in the Movie Night Canon.
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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 there’s nothing like the original, a movie that took the practical effects of other ‘90s movies like Jaws and Jurassic Park, but dialed back the horror and added a story the entire family could enjoy.
The movie follows a mystical board game known as Jumanji, a seemingly normal game with some supernatural consequences. Over the course of decades, the game must be played to completion in order to keep the world safe.
With a cast boasting names like Kirsten Dunst, Robin Williams, and Bonnie Hunt, there’s no shortage of star power, but the real strength is in the story. Unlike the low-stakes movies of the ‘80s, this film allowed children to face real threats like lions, giant mosquitoes, and fearsome hunters.
Jumanji understood something very few movies at the time did: When children make-believe, they’re not looking to go on some grand romantic adventure. They want to face trials and tribulations that test their resolve and make them feel like a hero. Jumanji treated its entire audience, from parents to children, as human beings that don’t need speaking down to.
Even if you’ve seen this movie before, it’s the kind of multifaceted story that’s relatable for all points in life. Maybe at first you related to Peter, the young boy who finds himself turned into a monkey. But now you may find renewed relevance in Robin Williams’ tour-de-force performance as Alan Parrish, the boy trapped in the game’s “inner world” for more than 20 years. The story may have a smaller scope, but to its audience it feels like an epic.
Plus, in a post-multiverse world where timelines overlap and intersect in the MCU and DCEU, Jumanji’s complex lore is oddly modern. Through playing the game, the characters are able to change timelines and prevent past tragedies — what kid doesn’t want to do that?
Jumanji is a cinematic treasure, but one that grows with you over time. With it leaving Netflix soon, check in with this timeless thriller before it’s too late. You may just discover a newfound love for a childhood classic.
Jumanji is streaming on Netflix until March 31.