Jumanji turns 25: What does the title actually mean?

Good trivia to know at your next pub quiz

Jacob Stolworthy
Saturday 19 December 2020 10:00 GMT
Jumanji (1995) Trailer

Jumanji has officially turned 25 – but the majority of its viewers still don’t know what the title actually means.

In the fantasy film, which stars Robin Williams, Jumanji is the deadly board game found by its characters.

Williams plays Alan Parrish, a man who became trapped inside Jumanji as a young boy. 

After being freed 26 years later by a new set of players, he must help them complete – and survive – the game.

Released in the US 25 years ago this week, Jumanji has endured as one of the most beloved family movies of the 1990s despite receiving middling reviews.

While the film’s title is now commonly known – helped by the 2017 reboot and its 2019 sequel starring Dwayne Johnson – you still might not know what it means.

According to Chris van Allsburg, the man who wrote the children’s book that inspired the film, Jumanji is actually a Zulu word for “many effects”.

These “effects" refer to “the exciting consequences of the game”, which includes the unleashing of wild monkeys, untamed tigers and huge spiders into the world.

Williams very nearly didn’t star in the film, only agreeing to sign on once the original script had been redrafted. 

Bonnie Hunt, Kirsten Dunst and Jonathan Hyde also appear in the film, which was released in the UK in February 1996.

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