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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Brief Thoughts: Welcome to the Jungle (Original NBFF Review)


I really enjoy putting my reviews together.  I honestly wish I could delve deeper into certain movies, but alas, I get incredibly busy and can sometimes only deal with movies to a briefer extent than I would prefer.  This is why I write these occasional "Brief Thoughts" posts on movies I have seen, as I want to at least offer some of my own perspective on them.  They may not be as polished, but I can at least get my opinions out there.  This post is a review for Welcome to the Jungle, which I originally reviewed for WhySoBlu.com, during my time covering the 2013 Newport Beach Film Festival.  As it relates to the Film Festival, the review certainly has elements relating to the theme of those posts.  I should also note that the reason I am posting this review is because I liked it enough to give it more mention, now that it is arriving on VOD.





Welcome to the Jungle: 3 out of 5

Originally posted April 28th at WhySoBlu.com:  The last film I got to see at the film festival on Saturday was actually the world premiere of the comedy Welcome to the Jungle.  Nearly the entire cast and crew were on hand to present the film to a packed audience in Newport Beach’s Lido Theater and I was happy to not be disappointed.  The film is a comedy that has some very familiar beats in it, but works due to many of the comedic performances on display.  It really worked as the kind of film that would be nice to end a long day of screenings on.


Welcome to the Jungle revolves around a group of office workers sent on a team building exercise on a tropical island.  Adam Brody stars as Chris, the workplace weakling who is regularly bullied by Phil (Rob Huebel), the office loudmouth.  This team building exercise is headed up by Storm (JCVD himself, Jean Claude Van Damme), an unhinged ex-Marine, who really gets a kick out of these extreme activities.  However, Phil quickly assumes leadership after the pilot of the plane who flew the office workers to the island is found dead and Storm is attacked by a wild tiger (just one of those days, I guess).  As Chris is much more qualified to lead, it quickly becomes a battle for supremacy, which comes at the risk of everyone remaining stranded on the island.


It really is the cast that makes this film work.  Along with Brody and Huebel, the film also stars Kristen Schaal, Dennis Haysbert, and Megan Boone, among others, and everyone really does a good job of balancing out the laughs.  Huebel is easily the best comedic weapon this film has to offer however, as he brings the right level of dickishness and ridiculousness to the role he is playing, as the film veers into being a twisted and raunchier version of Lord of the Flies with regards to how he leads the group.  Van Damme is notably quite funny in this film as well, but it is not so much that Van Damme’s comedic timing is very good, as it is just kind of jarring to watch the Mussels from Brussels play around with his image.  Obviously that is the point, but it does feel like the film tries to get more out of the fact that it is Van Damme playing this part rather than suggest that Van Damme is a comedic talent finally being tapped (although he is hilarious in Expendables 2).


The premise is a good one.  Playing around with the idea of team building exercise, the concept of being stranded on an island, and turning it into a workplace comedy gone off the deep end is a fairly fresh concept.  That said, I would easily recommend Severance for those who want this sort of comedy with a little more edge thrown in.  Still, Welcome to the Jungle is pretty funny.  It made me laugh quite a bit, even in the midst of seeing where a lot of the punch lines were going to come from early on.  Again, in a case like this, it comes down to the kind of energy a film has in getting across its goal and I was happy to give in and smile, while watching this film.

Welcome to the Jungle arrives on VOD on 2/07/2014






Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS4.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.

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