Thursday, June 23, 2016

Welcome to the Jungle (2013)

Number Rolled: 6
Movie Name/Year: Welcome to the Jungle (2013)
Tagline: Not your typical day at the office.
Genre: Comedy
Length: 94 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: The Salt Company International, Pimienta, 120dB Films, Stun Creative, Private Island Trax
Producer: Leah Aldarondo, Robert Bevan, Charley Cabrera, Mark Cartier, Sue Denisco Mullin, Mark Feldstein, Alex Goldstone, Peter Graham, Stephen Hays, Samantha Horley, Hannah Kanew, Justin Kanew, Jeff Kauffmann, Corey Large, Ewan Leslie, Cyril Megret, Rob Meltzer, J.J. Mullin, Ethan Newberry, James Norrie, Alan Pao, Luis A. Riefkohl, Alan Duncan Ross, Brad Roth, Luillo Ruiz, Bruce Simberg, Elissa Simberg, Arthur Tommaselli, Rita Tommaselli, Belly Torres, Kristopher Van Varenberg
Director: Rob Meltzer
Writer: Jeff Kauffmann
Actors: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Adam Brody, Rob Huebel, Kristen Schaal, Megan Boone, Juan C. Defendini, Eric Edelstein, Zev Glassenberg, Dennis Haysbert, Tommy Kavelin, Michael J. Morris, Teeadora Paz, Robert Peters, John Pinero, Mark Sherman, Aaron Takahashi, Brian Tester, Kristopher Van Varenberg, Bianca Brigitte VanDamme, Andrea Ruiz

Blurb from Netflix: When office colleagues are sent to a team-building exercise in the wilderness, their corporate adventure goes awry as they find themselves stranded.

Selina’s Point of View:
I was incredibly surprised by Welcome to the Jungle. I really don’t think it was marketed correctly.

The posters, the trailers, and all the other promotional items associated with this film made me think I was about to watch a silly Ace Ventura-esk (1994) film. I wasn’t expecting any huge plot or seriousness at all. I thought it would be a ridiculous, funny, light film.

Holy shit, was I wrong.

This film was not at all what I could have ever expected from what the marketing made it out to be. Sure, there were no real spoilers in the trailer. That’s great. However, the trailer also wasn’t honest about what I was about to see. There were some very silly aspects, but they were backed up by some relatively good acting, a decent script, and a real plot line.

I even saw some Lord of the Flies and Lost (2004-2010) references in this movie.

Welcome to the Jungle is still a comedy first and an action film second, but there were some parts that tipped the scale in the other direction. It caught me off guard.

That being said, I enjoyed the film. I didn’t think it was super-smart or amazingly original. It was a new spin on an old recipe, but a good spin.

I believe the only reason it’s rated so low on Rotten Tomatoes is because it’s not what people expected to see. It wasn’t marketed to the right demographic.

I was pleasantly surprised, but most people hate being tricked into expecting something they don’t get. It makes them bitter and unlikely to give an honest review. Sometimes, I get like that too… but this time I just wish the promos were made better.

Cat’s Point of View:
I was pretty jazzed when this movie came up for the current selection. The week had started on a low note for me, as I laid to rest my last grandparent on Monday. I’m going to resist the temptation to use this as a platform to rant about how horribly the VA dropped the ball in honoring a WWII Purple Heart veteran.

Needless to say, I was crossing my fingers that the dice would give us a mood lifter. Jackpot!

I initially thought that this movie would be good for a few cheap laughs and a few giggles at the expense of Jean-Claude Van Damme (Dragon Eyes, Swelter, Kung Fu Panda 3). I remember him best for all his cheesy action movies of the 80’s and 90’s.

Sure, that was part of this film – but it was also so much more. I was actually a bit impressed. My inner-geek had a squee.

Beneath all the camp was actually a plot of significant substance. I’m not kidding. We’re talking literary lessons here.

Writer, Jeff Kauffmann (Animation Domination High-Def, American Dad!), was definitely paying attention in English class. One of the staples of required school reading (at least when I was younger) obviously stuck with him. What am I talking about? William Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies. There have been two prior movies derived from this book in 1963 and 1990. Those, of course, followed the narrative more to the letter.

This movie is rather blatantly a modern-day adaptation of the story.

I found so many nuances within this film directly in parallel with Golding’s book that I lost count.

What a brilliant way to expose a modern audience, in attendance for the scatological humor, to a bit of classic literature – and more importantly, the underlying message.

Aside from the deeper meaning, the movie was pretty funny. Rather than an in-your-face drama, the satire angle actually works here.

These poor ad-agency schlubs were decidedly not in the ‘good hands of Allstate.’ [I really half-expected there to be some product placement somewhere. Dennis Haysbert (Jarhead, Experimenter, Ted 2) probably gets that a lot.]

I might watch this again just to count the references and actually write them down this time.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 22%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 20%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

The Random Rating: R

Movie Trailer:

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