Saturday, 7 February 2015

Welcome To The Jungle (2013)

Jean-Claude Van Damme has never been a stranger to comedy. He's shown a good nose for it all through his career. And those Coors Light commercials were fantastic. But it's only now that he's starring in an actual live-action comedy feature, and he's unsurprisingly great in it.

The plot concerns a young man named Chris (Adam Brody) who seems to spend every day at his work being walked over by Phil (Rob Huebel) or messing up any chance to engage in conversation with the lovely Lisa (Megan Boone). So he's really not overjoyed when he and his colleagues are sent away for a weekend team-building exercise on a remote island. The whole thing is being led by Storm Rothchild (Van Damme), a man with more brawn than brains, but it's not long until he's sidelined and everything starts going a bit Lord Of The Flies.

In line with so many other comedies that you've seen before, Welcome To The Jungle is still decent fun, thanks in no small part to Van Damme, Brody and the rest of the cast. The script by first-timer Jeff Kauffmann isn't big or clever. It's content to simply be amusing. Taking a bad situation and then making it worse, the movie is set up to get our main character to a point at which he decides to take a stand.

Director Rob Meltzer has only a few other credits to his name, and none of them really seem to be of particular interest to me, but he handles this material just as well as any of the other directors working today. Indeed, his ability to limit the film to about the 95-minute mark actually puts him ahead of some people.

Brody makes for a pleasant enough lead, Van Damme is consistently hilarious (and doesn't overdo things until the material leads him to that approach in the final third), and Huebel is very easy to dislike, and also laugh at. Megan Boone makes for an okay, if somewhat bland, love interest, while Kristen Schaal, Eric Edelstein and Dennis Haysbert are among the more entertaining supporting cast members.

Not a film that will make it onto any Top 10 lists, and not even a film that you'll necessarily remember a few years down the line. This is simply a good time while it's on, nothing more and nothing less. And it's recommended to anyone who ever wanted to see Van Damme recuperating while having his ears stroked and being soothed like a pet bunny. Admit it, you're sold.


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