Headlined by Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a star-studded, action-packed adventure from start to finish. While it’s definitely able to stand on its own from the original Jumanji film starring Robin Williams, the sequel keeps a strong connection to its predecessor. At first glance there’s one big moment that pays homage to Robin Williams, which is when we see the “Alan Parrish was here” tag in the treehouse built by Alan that Alex has been staying in for survival. But if you look deeper into the film, there are way more call outs to the original Jumanji than that!
You can see my deep dive into the original Jumanji movie references in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, below:
Here’s a breakdown of all of the references I spotted:
- The film starts off in the same town it all started out in — Brantford, New Hampshire.
- At the end of the original Jumanji, the game washed up on a beach, which is exactly where Alex’s dad finds it at the start of this movie.
- There is a reference to Officer Carl Bentley played by David Alan Grier as the school principal’s name is Principal Bentley.
- In detention, the kids are told to remove staples from magazines. One of the magazines briefly features Robin Williams face on the cover.
- The idea of getting sucked into the game and having to rescue someone is similar to that of the animated Jumanji series which came out in 1996, coincidentally the same year Alex gets sucked into the video game.
- The fact that our main characters gets sucked into Jumanji gives us a chance to finally see where Alan Parrish spent 26 years before he got out of the game.
- Alex ends up naming his children Alan and Bethany as a tribute to Robin Williams and the two people who helped him survive the game.
- Our evil villain is named Van Pelt in both the original and the sequel. The difference is that the original was an animal hunter while the new Van Pelt can control animals to do his bidding.
- There is a symbolic connection between Alan, his father, and Van Pelt, which is mirrored in the sequel with Spencer/Bravestone, Fridge, and Van Pelt. In the original film, the actor who played Van Pelt also played Alan’s dad to reflect their struggling relationship. In Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, Van Pelt’s backstory is that he is Smolder Bravestone’s former best friend turned rival, which is similar to Spencer and Fridge’s relationship. Another connection here is that when they finally defeat Van Pelt he explodes into a bunch of writhing mice and Fridge’s character’s name is “Mouse” Finbar. This is to reflect that Spencer and Fridge fought through their issues and became friends again.
- Even though Jumanji has become a video game in the sequel, it still pays homage to the board game. We keep the same theme of “a game for those who seek to find a way to leave their world behind.” One clue comes as a rhyming couplet. We get those same distant drums. There is a stampede of albino rhinos, which is one of the board game pieces from the original movie. And when the game is completed, you can see that the path looks like the board game layout.
- There are several elephant Easter eggs in this film, which was the Alan Parrish’s game piece in the original film. They discover the actual elephant token itself along with handwritten notes about clues not being what they seem or to climb when you see the elephant. There was an elephant statue at path to the end of the game and then a real life elephant is the only animal that’s on their side and helps them. Could these elephant references be a way to symbolize that Alan Parrish was with them the whole way guiding them through the game?