Let’s play Jumanji! No, let’s not, but say we did-—in space! Caldecott Medal–winning author Chris Van Allsburg has two primary audiences: kids who adore his surrealistic illustrated fantasies (Jumanji, The Polar Express, and this titular tale), and Hollywood execs who inhale them as ready-made, storyboarded feature pith. A Two-Manji of sorts, the film finds siblings Danny and Walter (Jonah Bobo and Josh Hutcherson) at home and at each other’s throats, until the younger Danny discovers the board game that sends their Arts & Crafts–style house hurtling through the galaxy. Innocents will see brother-love wrung and beaten till it’s gooey; math majors might notice a variant of the prisoner’s dilemma, with both boys compelled to see the game through to conclusion, their cooperation required for an ideal solution. One thing: Perhaps my studio-cynic hackles are raised imprudently, but either Favreau reimagined the boys’ teenage sister to read as matinee sex bomb, Tootsie Rolling around in pink boxers for half the film, or children’s books have become a lot hotter since I put down Seuss and Sendak for Encyclopedia Brown.
Umm, “Gimme a juice box, biotch”? Does Snoop have a children’s book out?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 1, 2005