When it comes to 90s family movies, Jumanji was one of the titles that keeps popping up. This blockbuster adventure film offered the perfect mix of adrenaline and anxiety that captivated audiences and broke box office records. Staring the Shepherd siblings played by Bradley Pierce and Kirsten Dunst, the kids played a magical board game that released wild animals and natural disasters that only disappeared after the game was finished. In the process they meet Alan Parrish, played by the lovable Robin Williams, who had been trapped in Jumanji for 26 years.
Leaving no terror to the imagination, a new version of Jumanji has been thrilling a new generation of movie watchers, but we can’t help but want to go back and relive the 1995 classic.
Let’s take a look back at the original with some wild facts that you never knew about the movie.
1. Scarlett Johansson auditioned for a role
The future Avenger actress had aspirations to be in the 1995 version of Jumanji.
The 11-year-old actress lost out on the role of Judy Shepherd to Kirsten Dunst. It could have been Dunst’s deep understanding of the character and her parents divorce that caused her to be chosen for the role.
“Judy’s like a normal little girl, but she can’t deal with the fact that her mom and dad are dead. She deals with it through her lies,” Dunst told the Chicago Tribune in 1995.
2. The movie was based on a picture book
Chris Van Allsburg penned a 1981 picture book entitled Jumanji which the concept of the 90s movie was based on. Unhappy with the original draft of the film, he got to contribute to a later draft.
“The premise [of] the book, and which is of value to the film story, is that there’s anarchy and chaos and something uncontrollable inside an environment that we associate with control, which is the house,” Van Allsburg toldThe Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s this surreal contrast of two things that don’t go together: the quiet domesticity of a large and carefully tended house, and the utter chaos that shudders through it.” This also gave some depth to a film that Van Allsburg complained originally had “movie cliches and a Los Angeles-centric feeling.”
3. Monopoly inspired the book
We all know that the worse fights come from playing monopoly, but this author drew on his frustration and created something wonderful.
“When I was a little boy and I would play games like Monopoly, they seemed kind of exciting, but when I was done with the game, all I had was fake money,” Van Allsburg said in a 2004 interview. “So I thought that it would be fun and exciting if there were such a thing as a game board where whenever you landed on a square and it said something was going to happen, then it would really happen.”
4. Robin Williams could relate his own family life
Robin Williams played Alan Parrish and was able to relate his own family to the one in the movie. “He was a bit stern and kind of elegant,” Williams said of his father.
But he saw the strained relationship between his father and his grandfather and knew he was attempting to change things.
“The wonderful thing about [my dad] is he would never force me to do anything … because something had happened early in his life where he didn’t want that to happen to me. He had to give up a dream,” Williams continued. “His father had been very wealthy and when his father died, they lost all of that and he was forced to work at a strip mine in Pennsylvania … When I found something I loved, [my dad] saw that … That’s what makes it nice, when you can connect on that level.”
5. Williams was able to relate as an only child
Williams feelings of being an only child allowed him to be able to connect with Alan.
“I’ve read Jumanji to my four-year-old and six-year-old. They are fascinated and a bit frightened by the black-and-white drawings of monsters under the bed,” said Williams. “But the story has … something much deeper and more disturbing. It’s the fear all children have of abandonment and separation from their parents. That’s where my character comes in. I play a boy who has been swallowed up in the game. By the time he is able to come out, 26 years later, his parents are dead, and he feels lost and alone. That’s something I can understand. As an only child, I had no siblings to play with, and my parents worked hard, and we moved around a lot.”
6. Alan Parrish’s father and Hunter Van Pelt are played by the same actor
Some of you may have recognized Jonathan Hyde as both Alan’s distant father and villain Van Pelt. If you didn’t, you will now. Surely this was done with intention as Alan Parrish had to overcome both oppressive men in the film.
7. The actor who played Peter Shepherd was also a familiar Disney voice
If hearing Bradley Pierce’s voice as Peter Shepherd felt familiar, it’s because the child actor kicked off his career by voicing the lovable teacup Chip in the Disney’s 1991 Beauty and the Beast.
He still continues to be a voice actor, recently being credited in The LEGO Movie video game.
8. The Parrish shoe sign is still on display
You have to go to Keene, New Hampshire to see it, but the sign is still there. When Williams passed away, the town’s residents gathered by the sign and set up a memorial for the late actor.
“We thought it might be a good idea for us to do something good for the community in response, not only to commemorate Robin Williams because he was so impressive, but also because a little bit of our city is in the movie,” Tim Horgan, The Colonial Theatre’s director of audience services, told Sentinel.com.
What was your favorite thing about the movie?
Source: Mental Floss