Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Welcome to the Jungle
Welcome to the Jungle is a comedy that opened in limited release with weak reviews. When it hit theaters, it failed to find an audience. Now it is coming out on DVD and Blu-ray. Does it deserve a second chance on the home market? Or is there a reason it failed to entice moviegoers?
The film begins with Chris having a dream where he secures a client. When he is woken up by his boss, Phil, Phil tells him to get cracking on the pitch they are working on. Chris mentions he has his own idea, a Koala bear mascot for Krayton tissue paper. Phil hates it, while Phil's lackey, Troy, agrees. After getting a pep talk from Jared, we are introduced to more of his co-workers, including Brenda, who has had a relationship with Jared, as well as Lisa, who Chris has a crush on, but he's too timid to do anything about it.
As expected, when the client for Krayton shows up, Phil steals Chris's work and it is a big success. However, when Chris tells Mr. Crawford, the CEO of the company, what happened, Mr. Crawford simply doesn't believe him. Phil threatens to get nasty if he rats him out again. Before this awkward moment can continue, Storm Rothschild arrives. Storm is an ex-military man that Mr. Crawford hired to head a team-building exercise on a tropical jungle island. It doesn't sound like a lot of fun, especially since Storm takes an immediate dislike to Chris.
After a short, and unconvincing flight (Most unrealistic airplane flight I have seen in a while, and I recently reviewed The Horror at 37,000 Feet.) they arrive at their destination. A little more hi-jinx ensue before Storm begins to prepare them for what they will endure. However, even Storm isn't prepared for what happens next. First, the pilot dies. Second, there's a tiger spotted on the island. At first Storm tries to claim there are no tigers on the island, but then he is mauled by a really unconvincing tiger. (Is this movie trying to be "So bad it's good?") Now the office drones are stuck on the island without any guide. Fortunately, Chris has wilderness survival skills he learned in Eagle Scouts. Unfortunately, he doesn't have any leadership skills and soon Phil declares himself the leader. How will they survive? Will anyone care?
Welcome to the Jungle is a very unfunny movie. There are lots of jokes in it, but the vast majority of them fall flat. For instance, there are a few jokes in rapid succession where someone does something wrong and Chris gets blamed for it. The first time it wasn't funny. The second time I was a little concerned, because repetition kills humor. The third time was painful to watch. Most of the corporate drones were too generic to care about, that includes Chris as well as Phil. When your protagonist and antagonist are not real enough to care about, the movie really suffers as a result. You could look to the supporting cast, but for the most part, that doesn't help. Lisa was nondescript as a love interested, but that's still better than nearly all of the other characters. I did like Brenda. Kristen Schaal is excellent at bringing these types of characters to life. However, by far the best part of the movie was Storm. Jean-Claude Van Damme was playing up his previous characters (including a pretty spot on parody of the Bloodsport climax). He was funny and actually elevated the material he was given. The guy can act. He just hasn't been given a lot of opportunity to do so in the past.
There are only two extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray. The first is a single deleted scene. The second is an hour of behind-the-scenes footage.
The technical presentation is solid. The film looks really good, for the most part. The level of details is high and the colors are great. However, the nighttime scenes are not as strong. The dialogue is clear, but there's not a lot of activity in the surround sound speakers.
The Blu-ray costs $24, which is $7 or 43% more than the DVD. That's asking a lot.
Jean-Claude Van Damme is the best part of Welcome to the Jungle and I hope he gets more chances to do comedy. On the other hand, just about everything else is a mess and it is not worth your time. If you are interested in buying the DVD is the better deal over the Blu-ray.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2014-03-24