The massive plot hole in Jumanji
SPOILERS AHEAD: In order to discuss the plot hole for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, we'll have to talk about some plot points, duh.
Of all the Boxing Day movies this year, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was the biggest surprise - surprising because a cynical ploy to exploit existing intellectual property for box office revenue turned out to be such a rollicking fun adventure.
But the decision to make it a direct sequel, rather than a reboot, means there's a massive plot hole.
In the original Jumanji movie, Robin Williams' character, Alan Parrish, is a kid in 1969 who is sucked into the game. Twenty-six years later, in 1995, Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) find and "join" the game. A roll of the dice releases a now-grown-up Alan from the Jumanji jungle and back into the real world where wackiness and stampedes ensue.
Once the game finishes, as promised, all the consequences are rolled back and Alan and Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) return to that night in 1969 as children, as if almost three decades of human history never happened.
They fall in love, marry and carry on the next 26 years with the full knowledge of the alternate lives they led. When they meet Judy and Peter again, the 90s kids have no idea of what happened.
In Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Alex, a video-game playing teenager is sucked into the game which has now morphed into an audiovisual experience. Twenty-one years later, four other teens - Spencer, Bethany, Fridge and Martha - get sucked into the same Jumanji session that Alex started playing in 1996.
Inside Jumanji, the teens take on the physical forms of their game avatars. Eventually, they come across Alex who's been trapped in the game this whole time as his avatar, Seaplane McDonough (bearing the youthful visage of Nick Jonas).
Alex is stunned to learn that 21 years have passed since the night he became trapped. He's spent part of his time in Jumanji in a secret hide-out built by Alan Parrish whose name was carved into the wood.
This little detail is a nice tribute to Williams but it also definitively places Welcome to the Jungle in the same universe with direct continuity, which means the same reality-bending rules should apply.
When the group of five teens finish the game, they're returned to their respective timelines. The four teens pop back out in 2017 with their memories of Jumanji (and life lessons learnt) intact. They race down to Alex's house where a now grown-up Alex (played by the older Colin Hanks) pulls up in a car. He also remembers everything and has lived out the last 21 years with that knowledge.
So we have two burning questions:
Why do the 2017 teens remember everything when Judy and Peter didn't? They entered the game in the same circumstances as Peter and Judy - joining an already in play session that started before they were born. Why didn't the whole timeline reset to that night in 1996 when Alex started playing, just like it did in 1969 for Alan and Sarah?
The other question is how does time really work inside Jumanji? It appeared to pass in chronological order for Alan who aged from a pre-teen to an almost middle-aged man. But Alex had no sense that decades had passed, he thought it had been a few months. Arguably, the not-physically ageing thing is explained because they're avatars but surely time should still pass the same way?
Now, these two plot holes don't detract from the overall experience of enjoying the movie - it really is quite entertaining - it's just a puzzler.
If you reckon you've got a good theory to explain these plot holes - "it's magic" is not a good theory - share them with @wenleima on Twitter.