“Working Through Our Differences”
By: John D. Pepe
This installment of Jumanji, the last one being in December 1995, is much less dark and serious than the one staring the late, great comedian, Robin Williams. This last December’s Jumanji was much lighter. A stocked full of laughs type movie, yet it left you with a straight forward, positive message.
The story revolves around four high schoolers, all of whom have little in common. They are each cast with your stereo-typical arch-types: THE GEEK, THE JOCK, THE POPULAR GIRL, and THE OUTSIDER. These characters all end up in after school detention for various reasons, and as part of the punishment they must clean out the school’s basement. They stumble upon an old video game and all end up picking different avatars who get sucked into the world of Jumanji with their real selves becoming the avatars they had chosen. Each of the avatars representing the polar opposites of who they are in life.
THE GEEK ends up as DR. SMOULDER BRAVESTONE (played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). THE JOCK (Whose nickname is the “Fridge”) becomes FRANKLIN FINBAR (played by Kevin Hart). THE POPULAR GIRL transforms into PROF. SHELDON “Shelly” OBERON (played by Jack Black), and THE OUSTSIDER turns into RUBY ROUNDHOUSE (played by Karen Gillian-“Nebula” from Guardians).
They discover that each of their avatars possess unique abilities, with strengths and weaknesses, and that like the video games of old, you only have three lives; and once they are up, you die in real life.
With no other choice if they want to escape Jumanji and return to their former selves the are forced to work together, utilizing each avatars’ gifts to find the clues that will lead them to removing the curse of Jumanji and hence, sending them home. Very often they find themselves in precarious situations, ones that send the audiences into fits of laughter.
I think the lessons that can be taken from this movie are wonderful. The characters learn how to live in another person’s skin, for good or bad, giving them a new prospect on how others might feel. Each character learns to appreciate who they are, coming to the conclusion that it is okay to be “you.” Even with our flaws. And the most glaring point: learning to work together despite one’s differences. In the end, the group is not only able to help JEFFERSON “Seaplane” McDONUGH (Nick Jonas) escape from Jumanji after being trapped there for twenty years, they also realize that without him, they cannot be free of the video game world.
What you, as the view, come to realizes is that each avatar must play a part. The game has been set up so that if they don’t work together, using the gifts they have been given, they will never make it out of Jumanji (this is why JEFFERSON has been stuck there for 20 years-no help).
I feel like God has done something similar with us. Each one of us is unique, given talents and foibles by the Lord. The trick is learning how to use a talent to buttress another’s weakness. Learning how to work together, as a team. But in order to do that we must get beyond our selfish pettiness.
How can we become like the characters in the movie, helping each other find a way to lift our curse? How do we help each other make our world a better place?
The reality is that we need each other. Human beings need other human beings. If we could just learn to use our differences, our unique skills to help one another, focusing on the great good of all, we could lift our curse and our “Jumanji” would be a better place.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him-a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Let’s learn to work together. Let’s learn to help each other. Let’s be learn to be good humans.