Earlier this week, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — executive producer and star of Sony’s upcoming Jumanji remake — took to Instagram to discuss how this new effort would pay tribute to late original star Robin Williams and to tease that big casting announcements were soon to come. With rumors circulating that Johnson’s Central Intelligence castmate Kevin Hart would be joining the cast, the actor made something of a surprise announcement, not only confirming Hart’s participation, but also revealing that comedian Jack Black would also join the cast.
With Jake Kasdan lined up to direct the film, Black’s involvement becomes a reunion of sorts, as the two worked together previously on Orange County in 2002. Since then, Kasdan has gone on to direct television episodes and films such as Bad Teacher, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, and Sex Tape, while Black has become something of a household name. At any rate, given Kasdan’s previous work, and the addition of Black and Hart, one has to wonder whether or not the film will retain the original’s family-friendly tone, or if it will aim for something edgier.
The casting news came earlier today from The Wrap, with initial reports suggesting Black was merely in talks to join the film. Ever the social media presence, Johnson made news of Black and Hart joining the cast official soon after with yet another Instagram post.
IT'S OFFICIAL: An ol' friend is ready to play in the world of #JUMANJI... JACK (mf'n) BLACK. Been a big fan of his work over the years. A brilliant actor who I'm confident will turn in a performance of a lifetime for JUMANJI. (when we reveal his character you'll understand;). In our reimagining of the story of JUMANJI, Jack brings that rare balance of cool with funny and edge with childlike joy. The "Jumanji Breakfast Club" is coming together.. myself, Jack (mf'n) Black and Kevin Hart. Two big roles left. One bad ass girl. One semi-sorta bad ass dude. Who will they be... this is gonna be fun. #JUMANJI #WelcomesJackBlack #JustPressStart #TheGameThatPlaysYou
The question now becomes: What role will Black and Hart play, as it remains unclear what if any characters will be ported over from the 1995 film? Johnson has said that his version of Jumanji will pay some sort of tribute to Williams’ character of Alan Parrish, but beyond that the story may well revolve around a completely new set of people unlucky enough to get stuck playing the titular fantastical board game. It’s also important to note that Johnson mentions two other characters who have yet to be cast: “One bad ass girl. One semi-sorta bad ass dude.” Who those two will wind up being is anyone’s guess.
Since Johnson is currently one of the most bankable stars in the world, it seems safe to assume that he’ll play the leading hero, with Hart likely once again playing the outlandish sidekick role he’s excelled at in films like Ride-Along. Based on Black’s often over-the-top performances and his history of donning elaborately wacky costumes, he would seem like a natural fit for a part similar to the original Jumanji’s big game jungle hunter Van Pelt, assuming a character of that nature ends up appearing within the remake’s script.
A comedy/adventure cast lead by Johnson, Hart, and Black is likely to be considered by many as somewhat of a dream team. Adding to the potential appeal is the fact that Black has yet to share the screen with either Johnson or Hart, creating a comedic dynamic viewers wouldn’t have experienced prior to Jumanji’s theatrical debut. If the trio clicks in just the right way, there could very well soon be a cash monsoon in Sony’s lagoon.
Jumanji hits theaters on July 28 2017.