Monday, November 05, 2018

Welcome to the Neighborhood Jungle

Began a dark and rainy morning with breakfast and more Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Mr. Rogers and the mailman Mr. McFeely hit a bowling alley to demonstrate sports to the kids, and we see a group of kids learn how to play in a junior bowling club. Meanwhile, in the Land of Make Believe, King Friday has created a sports team, complete with orange uniforms. Trouble is, they don't know what game to play. They settle on hide and seek...but Lady Elaine uses her own magic to find them too quickly. They end up asking her to join the team.

Spent the rest of the morning working on my current story. A sleek, black wolf stops Rose as she walks along the path. Unlike Little Red in the original story, she's not a child and is wary of the creature. She suspects he's not what he claims. He suggests she take a different path and pick some wildflowers to make Leia feel better. She does do it, but she has her suspicions about that wolf...

Broke for lunch at 1. Made a delicious smoothie with a banana, coffee yogurt, skim milk, peanut butter, and dark cocoa for lunch. Did more Mister Rogers as I put everything together. This time, the theme was recycling. While Mr. Rogers made a mini-TV from a box and puppets from rubber balls and fabric, the citizens of the Land of Make Believe are trying to figure out what to do with the trash that's overflowing in their land. Lady Elaine and King Friday hope that appearing on TV will give them the solution.

It was still raining by the time I left for work, but not as hard. I really didn't want to drag anyone out in the weather, so I just rode to work and got wet. Work wasn't that busy when I got in, but I still was stuck in the register for an hour and a half. One of the cashiers went home sick. Even after it slowed down enough for me to get out, the moment rush hour started, things went insane. I spent most of the rest of the day bagging. Between the weather, this being the beginning of the month, and those huge sales, we were crazy all through rush hour. It didn't help that we had a lot of people doing WIC checks or who just simply could not figure out the online coupon programs who were in less than wonderful moods. I was so happy when it finally died around 5:30, and I was able to spend my last half-hour doing returns. Thankfully, it wasn't raining when I finally headed out.

As soon as I got home, I had leftovers for dinner while finishing out the Mister Rogers disc. By far my favorite segment of the remaining episodes was a visit with Eric Hill, who wrote the children's books about Spot the dog until his death in 2014. It was really fascinating to see his actual drawings and painting for one of the books in the series. There was an interesting segment on a sneaker factory, and another one where Mr. Rogers went to the dentist (and revealed just what has and hasn't changed about dentistry since the early 90's).

Of the Land of Make Believe segments, my favorite was the one where the others tried to help fix King Friday's portraits after one of Lady Elaine's pranks got clay on them. Daniel Tiger doesn't think his drawing of a blue king is good enough to contribute, but Robert Troll encourages him to bring it over anyway. Lady Elaine is in the spotlight in a story where she flubs a line on the play she's putting on at the museum-go-round and has to be consoled by the others that she tried her best.

Finished the night with Jumanji. In 1969, a little boy, Alan, finds a board game at a construction site. He encourages his friend Sarah to join him at the mansion where he lives to play a round. Shortly after they start playing, Alan makes an accidental roll...and is sucked into the game! Sarah runs out screaming after she's chased by mysterious bats.

Fast-forward to 1995. Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) are now living in the restored mansion with their aunt. Bored one day, they find Jumanji in the attic and decide to give it a go. When they start playing, they unleash monkeys, mosquitoes, a lion...and an adult Alan (Robin Williams). He's been trapped in the game for the last 30 years and has been waiting for someone to roll again. They eventually discover that the only way to free Alan for good is to get Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) back into the game. Having been traumatized by Alan's disappearance, she wants no part of Jumanji or him now. Even when they talk her into playing, they unleash more animals, a stampede, and Van Pelt (Johnathan Hyde), a big-game hunter who is determined to bring down Alan. Now they have to figure out how to finish the game without either getting killed by animals, Van Pelt, carnivorous plants, or a local cop (David Alan Grier) with ties to Alan.

I was a teenager when we first rented this one in 1996, and I wasn't a big fan of it then. In fact, I thought it was pretty dumb. It's held up much better than I expected. Williams and Hunt are especially fun as the man who spent most of the last 30 years battling a jungle and the woman who has tried very hard to forget the whole thing ever happened. The special effects mostly look decent...and honestly, even when they're less-than-realistic, it sort of works with it just being a fantasy-based board game. Hyde and Grier are also nice as the big game hunter out to bag himself the human variety of prize and the cop who doesn't understand what the heck is going on.

This is one of the rare times I equally recommend the original and the reboot/remake. Both films play on different versions of the same premise - kids find themselves trapped in the world of a jungle game - and do it just as well.

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