Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Touch and go.
When I was in 10th grade or so, my entire English class was instructed to read a little book called “Lord of the Flies”. This classic book was about a group of kids that are stranded on an island that resort to violence and primitive survival instincts. This story spawned a movie back in the day and several other projects that at least reference the story. Welcome to the Jungle is more of an obvious reference to “Lord of the Flies”. It’s a comedy and it has adults instead, but it is relatively the same exact premise, just comes to show you how different a story can be through the perception of genre.
In Welcome to the Jungle, a group of colleagues working at an advertisement firm go on a business retreat to a remote island. The reason this unlikely group is sent to the island is to, from what I understand it, learn strength and leadership in a completely different light. However, when their way off the island suddenly dies, they are forced to find a different way to survive, and the group splits into two. One side wants to find a way off the island, one wants to stay and live like gods. There can only be one victor.
I never heard of this film before I watched it, the only thing that caught my eye was the cast initially. More specifically, Dennis Haysbert. My brother and I have been rewatching 24 for our TV podcast, Smaller on the Outside, which Haybert plays the President of the United States. Or as you may know him from the Allstate commercials. Anyways, he is a phenomenal actor and because I haven’t really seen him in anything else, especially a comedy, I wanted to see how he did. Well, he’s not in much of the film because his character doesn’t tag along to the island like I thought he would, but he does alright. What’s cool to mention is that the rest of the cast is overall casted pretty darn well. The movie itself isn’t amazing, but it’s got a great cast, which ultimately helps this film out. Most of the cast and characters are diverse enough to actually enjoy. Anyone else in these roles would have turned the film into complete rubbish.
The reason why I say this film isn’t amazing is because simply put – it’s not. The film is way too long for what it’s going for, and that’s sad. It’s only 95 minutes, so for that to feel long – you know you have a problem. Instead, what this film feels like is one of those really good episodes of Community that strive from the typical format, nothing else. You heard me, the plot of this film would have worked much better in a half hour sitcom. Instead, it is dragged out presumably to help the characters gain some development…but ultimately, I don’t care as much about the characters as I do the premise, and it’s the premise that seems to lack proper pacing.
Look, it’s okay when you’re watching it. The jokes are sometimes effective, even written well at times, but then it crashes and burns with other jokes. So it’s just not all there, and I think a big reason is because of that pacing. It should have cut its losses and made a short film or something, because the foundation of the film just isn’t strong enough to support the stuff in this film that just doesn’t measure up. Kind of unfortunate, but hey, that’s life right?
The casting and characters in Welcome to the Jungle weren’t that terrible of a choice, and the premise was like Lord of the Flies, which is always fun. Some of the jokes really work. Oh, and Dennis Haysbert, he’s awesome in literally everything.
The rest of the jokes don’t. Sorry, but the film feels way too long – even at 95 minutes. Instead, the premise and effective writing in this film feel more like a really drawn out NBC sitcom.