Jumanji

The Rock isn’t just immense, he’s also charming and funny, cinematic gifts on display in this family-friendly action comedy. Worth your time? Hemal and Brian agreed, for once.

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In ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’, a band of mismatched high school students are sucked into an evil video game, where they inhabit the bodies of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan. Also one of the Jonas Brothers, eventually. 

Much of the movie’s comedy derives from this conceit – a nerdy 17-year-old suddenly finds himself in the body of a gigantic action hero. The Rock pulls this off with a confident joie de vrie, as do his co-stars, especially Jack Black, channeling a queen bee cheerleader.

Technically this is the third Jumanji movie, building on the two oddball Robin Williams’ movies from the 90s – Jumanji and Zathura – but the filmmakers have wisely elected to mostly start from scratch, keeping only the outward trappings of the earlier films.

Hemal and Brian, your beloved co-hosts, have been bitterly divided on the cinematic works they’ve watched for this season of Ten Movies, but ‘Jumanji’ was a rare point of concurrence. We hope you find similar enjoyment in it.

Ten Movies is part of the Underdog Podcast network and is produced with help from Seth Everett and Anthony Gill.

Central Intelligence

Teaming up with Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson tries his mighty hand at slapstick comedy. Is it an instant classic or a tonally incoherent mess? Brian and Hemal have your answer.

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In ‘Central Intelligence’, Kevin Hart plays a boring middle-class accountant and The Rock plays a weirdly naive man-child who is also somehow a merciless CIA operative. Because Hart was nice to him in high school, The Rock gets him involved in a confusing high-stakes game of murder and subterfuge. Presumably someone is trying to sell the top-secret codes to ruthless international terrorists, because in these kinds of movies someone is always trying to sell the top-secret codes to ruthless international terrorists, but honestly it doesn’t matter that much.

It is perhaps not accurate to say “these kinds of movies”, though, because ‘Central Intelligence’ is all over the place. It’s a spoof, it’s an action-comedy, it’s a buddy-comedy, it’s a lowbrow gross-out satire; it’s a great many things, possibly to the detriment of its coherence as a cinematic work.

Released in 2016, this marks the third film Dwayne Johnson has made with director Rawson Marshall Thurber, a man who relentlessly shoots for the middle. But at least The Rock is doing something other than his usual stoic hero routine here, putting in a largely comic turn as a foil to Kevin Hart’s protagonist. Did we buy it? Listen and see.

Ten Movies is part of the Underdog Podcast network and is produced with help from Seth Everett and Anthony Gill.