When the original Jumanji was released in 1995, it was a hit. Its success was due in large part to the spectacular casting of Robin Williams in the lead male role, but people also flocked to see it because there had never been anything quite like it in other movies before that time.
It had a truly unique plot, and though the CGI and special effects may look dated today, in 1995, those things were mind-blowing!
Even now, nearly 25 years later, Jumanji is still considered a great flick, and most 90’s kids can still tell you the tagline: “A game for those who seek to find a way to leave their world behind.” It’s a childhood favorite of these adults; they show it to their own kids, and the cycle continues.
Perhaps the greatest testament to the movie’s lingering popularity was that a sequel was made in 2017, and a follow-up to that was made in 2019. These two films were also fun and enjoyable to watch, but most people would agree that neither of them hold a candle to the original Jumanji.
But What Made Jumanji So Special?
Other than the unique plot and the stellar cast – in addition to Robin Williams, the movie starred a young Kirsten Dunst, Bonnie Hunt and Bradley Pierce – the movie also had an amazing musical score and a ton of excitement and action.
There were also some incredible magical/fantasy elements that weren’t overdone, a low-key romance and this overwhelming sense of “us against the world” in the group’s battle against the magical wilds of Jumanji.
In terms of themes, the movie had some really prevalent ones that we may not have noticed as children but that are pretty evident to us now upon rewatching. These include:
- Facing one’s fears
- Remaining strong against overwhelming odds
- The adolescent desire for chaos and anarchy and the perils of actually getting those things (“Be careful what you wish for…”)
- The importance of teamwork and loyalty
- Following through on one’s commitments
Finding a movie that’s like Jumanji often means finding a movie that shares these same themes. Additionally, a movie could be “like Jumanji” if it features lots of action and a heavy fantasy element.
Finally, if you’re anything like me, going back and watching the movie now as an adult, you’ll feel this overwhelming sense of nostalgia and a longing for the simplicity of youth and the ability to escape your biggest worries – homework, crushes, fights with your best friend – by losing yourself for a couple hours in a great flick.
These are the things I kept in mind while compiling this list of movies like Jumanji. Hopefully, you’ll be reminded of a few old favorites and introduced to a few new films to enjoy.
*Note: Movies are arranged in order from those most like Jumanji at the top to those least like Jumanji at the bottom.
20 Movies to Watch if You Love Jumanji
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) & Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)
If you love the original Jumanji but haven’t yet watched the two follow-up movies, they’re where you need to start if you’re looking for similar movies. These movies are definitely an updated version with much more modern special effects and with the Jumanji game being a video game rather than a board game, but everything else – the action, the excitement, the fantasy, the need to keep fighting and persevere even when the odds seem impossible – can be found in the newer movies as well.
There’s no Robin Williams, of course, but Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan definitely hold their own. Jack Black, while not exactly Robin Williams, is totally hilarious and gives off some definite Williams vibes in the delivery of his lines. Of the two new movies, I found the first one to be better, but if you like Jumanji, you’ll probably enjoy them both.
Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)
Almost everyone knows that Jumanji now has two sequels, but what a lot of people don’t know is that it actually has three sequels instead. The original Jumanji is based on the Chris Van Allsburg children’s book of the same name, and in 2002, Van Allsburg wrote a sequel to the book called Zathura. This book was then made into a movie that most people missed when it first premiered.
In many ways, this movie is actually more like the original film than the 2017 and 2019 sequels because it was filmed nearer to the same time and tells the story of another board game played by another set of siblings. The only real differences between the two movies are the cast and the fact that Zathura transports the kids to outer space rather than bringing another world to them. The overall setup, plot, action and themes of both movies are remarkably similar.
The Night at the Museum Trilogy (2006-2014)
When it comes to these movies, the first one is by far the best, but all three of them are fun to watch, and they all have a strong resemblance to the Jumanji films. There are no games of any kind involved; instead, the movies focus on Ben Stiller’s character, Larry, taking a job as a night watchman at a museum where all the exhibits come alive after dark. Even so, this movie and Jumanji have a lot in common.
There’s something about all the historical characters and extinct animals coming to life at night that’s very much like a stampede of rhinos, a locked-up lion and a troop of destructive monkeys – all things featured as major obstacles in the Jumanji game. ANatM also features Robin Williams as a wax statue of Theodore Roosevelt that comes to life, and that only strengthens the two movies’ connection.
Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)
Brendan Fraser isn’t too popular now, but if you were a child of the 90’s or early-00’s, you probably remember him from pretty much everything. In this movie, based on the Jules Verne novel of the same name, Fraser portrays a quirky, kind of dorky professor who, along with his nephew and their guide, gets trapped inside a cave. In their quest to find a way out, they journey to the center of the Earth.
Along the way, they see dinosaurs and other amazing creatures, and those creatures aren’t always friendly. They must also contend with a major volcano eruption in order to get out of the cave alive. The whole thing is one action-packed adventure after another, and it’s very Jumanji-like. This isn’t one of my favorite movies on the list, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say the two films have a lot in common.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012)
While you’re checking out Journey to the Center of the Earth, you might as well stream the sequel as well because they’re both a lot of fun and full of the exciting action scenes and adventurous twists and turns that made people fall in love with Jumanji. While Brendan Fraser isn’t part of the sequel, the producers chose an apt replacement for him in the form of Dwayne Johnson. Josh Hutcherson was able to reprise his role. Luis Guzman, Vanessa Hudgens and Michael Caine round out the cast, and together they do a great job of pulling off some great comedy scenes.
This second film in the franchise is also based on a Jules Verne novel, The Mysterious Island, and like the original film, this one gives a nod to Verne in an important plot point. The Mysterious Island takes the gang to the Lost City of Atlantis, and as far as action goes, it’s full to the brim. There’s a cyclone, a helicopter crash, huge lizards, giant butterflies and bees large enough for people to ride. If you loved the on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense of Jumanji, you’ll definitely enjoy Journey 2.
The Goonies (1985)
In plot, The Goonies and Jumanji don’t have that much in common, but if you were born in the mid-to-late-80’s or early-90’s, then you’ll probably get that same sense of overpowering nostalgia when you watch The Goonies that you likely get while rewatching Jumanji. There’s just something about both movies that has the power to transport you immediately back to your childhood.
The themes are pretty similar as well. There’s a whole lot of ‘fear-facing,’ and the Goonies Squad is nothing if not loyal to one another and focused on working together for the good of the team. That same sense of chaos and anarchy can be found in both films, and there’s even a little hint of the ‘seeing things through to the end’ theme in The Goonies as well. There are a lot of differences between the two movies, but give them both a rewatch; you’ll soon realize they had a lot more in common than you probably remember.
Have you ever noticed that there’s this certain feel surrounding movies based on children’s books? Even if the movies are supposed to be “scary,” you watch them knowing that everything is going to be fine in the end, and so the excitement, action and suspense are fun and lighthearted, even when things seem bleak. The feeling is present while watching both Jumanji and Goosebumps, likely because both were based on children’s books.
In many ways, Goosebumps is pretty much just a paranormal version of Jumanji. Jack Black’s child-at-heart demeanor is so much like Robin Williams’ Alan Parrish. Additionally, the main characters in Goosebumps must fight and survive a bunch of horror monsters brought to life from a magical book, much like the Jumanji group having to fight and survive a bunch of wild animals brought to life because of a board game. The similarities between these two movies are almost too obvious to need pointing out, so if you haven’t seen it yet, just give it a shot. I think you’ll be surprised at how much you like it.
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (2018) and/or The Jungle Book (2016)
Mowgli and Disney’s latest release of The Jungle Book came out quite close together, and although they’re different movies, they’re both based on the same original book, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. I watched both and liked both, but personally, of the two, I preferred Mowgli. If you’re looking for something to give you strong Jumanji vibes, though, either movie would do.
In terms of similarity, it’s less about plot and theme for these movies and more about the action, excitement and all those amazing jungle animals and conflicts. There are also some parallels that can be drawn between Van Pelt the hunter and Lockwood in Mowgli, but mostly, the movies are similar because of all the jungle animal action, so if what you love best about Jumanji are the exciting animal scenes, you’ll love either of these two movies.
Ready Player One (2018)
Truthfully, Ready Player One has much more in common with the 2017 sequel to Jumanji than it does the original, but there are some similarities to both. Obviously, the largest similarity comes in RPO‘s main plot, which is the characters’ quest to survive and win a very competitive, virtual reality game.
A group of teens is forced to face dangerous and deadly obstacles as part of a game that could have devastating consequences in real life. RPO is much more sci-fi and special effects heavy than Jumanji, but you’ll definitely see the parallels.
Jurassic Park (1993)
When people talk about movies that are “like Jumanji, they often forget about Jurassic Park. Jumanji was a family/adventure/comedy movie, while JP was more of a sci-fi/thriller/adventure movie. As a result, people don’t often compare the two, but they have more in common than you might remember. In addition to having the same basic cast set-up – adult male, adult female, brother/sister combo – the plots can also be compared.
While the Jumanji board game brings real jungle creatures to life in a suburban setting, the scientists at Jurassic Park brought real dinosaurs back from extinction only to have them escape their confines. The circumstances are different, but the results are the same: a group of people is unwittingly enforced to endure encounters with dangerous, potentially deadly animals in order to survive. Jurassic Park is a little darker and less warmhearted, but if you like the idea behind one movie, you’re probably going to like the other one as well.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Although the two movies do have some similar themes, such as the importance of friendship, teamwork and loyalty and following through on commitments even when it’s hard, E.T. and Jumanji aren’t remarkably similar in terms of plot or movie structure.
Even so, if you’re a child of the 90’s looking for a movie that gives you that same warmhearted feeling of nostalgia that you get from watching Jumanji, you simply can’t overlook E.T. Chances are this was one of your all-time favorites as a kid, and even if it wasn’t, it’s still going to fill you with all kinds of “When I was your age…” thoughts. Plus, it’s a classic, so if you have kids, you definitely need to share it with them.
The second Brendan Fraser movie on our list finds him playing the role of Mo, a bookbinder who finds out he can bring literary characters to life. Fraser does fine in the movie, but Eliza Bennett, who plays Mo’s daughter, Meggie, is really the show-stealer.
This movie is a less supernatural, more fantastical version of Goosebumps in many ways. When Mo accidentally brings a literary villain to life, things get complicated, and he and his daughter must find a way to get the villain and the other creatures out of Earth and back into their books. You’ll find a lot in this movie to remind you of Jumanji.
The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
This movie has all the same major themes as Jumanji, and there’s equal amounts of adventure and comedic relief in both movies. The Spiderwick Chronicles features a much stronger fantasy element, though, while Jumanji features largely realistic things happening in a fantastical way. Jumanji also has more overt action scenes than TSC.
Still, the two movies have quite a bit in common. There’s plenty of chaos and excitement in both, and the reliance on child actors to carry most of the movie is also found in both films. TSC, also based on a popular children’s book, incorporates folklore and fairy tales to tell the story of the Grace siblings who move to a new home and find that it’s inhabited by all kinds of mythical, magical creatures.
Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
Much like Mowgli or The Jungle Book, the parallels between Where the Wild Things Are and Jumanji are mostly found in the wild animals the main characters must face in each movie. The animals in WtWTA are fictional characters rather than real-life monkeys, lions, rhinos, etc., but they’re just as wild and unpredictable.
The plots of the movies aren’t that much alike, but because of the animals and that “based on the popular children’s book” feel you get when watching them both, you’ll start noticing some similarities fairly early into your viewing.
Time Bandits (1981)
If you’ve never even heard of this movie, don’t feel bad; it’s been largely overlooked outside of a small group of cult followers. However, if you’re looking for something that’ll give you the same action, fantastical scenarios, excitement and hilarity of Jumanji, it’s time to become acquainted with this one. Personally, I think the original trailer is testament enough as to why you should watch it.
It’s a British adventure/comedy from the early-80’s produced (and largely starring) members of the Monty Python comedy troupe. The plot is simple enough: a young boy is accidentally swept along with a group of time-traveling dwarfs who’ve stolen a map and are looking for hidden treasure.
The twists, turns and insane – and sometimes impossible – action add so much more to the film than that plot could describe though. Whether you love Jumanji for the action, the comedy or the cool animal obstacles, you’ll find something in Time Bandits that’ll suit your tastes.
Hook is an early-90’s retelling of the traditional Peter Pan story, and while they do change some things around and look at the old story in a new way, the main characters and plot points remain largely unchanged.
Peter is played by Robin Williams, and if a family adventure movie starring Robin Williams as the leader of the Lost Boys doesn’t give you Jumanji vibes, nothing will. In fact, the characters of Alan Parrish and Peter Pan have a lot in common, and Williams played both of them with similar quirks and mannerisms.
There are plenty of overlapping themes in the two movies as well. The whole idea of chaos and anarchy are exemplified fully in the Lost Boys, and Peter, himself, is a walking billboard for “Be careful what you wish for…” The importance of teamwork and loyalty is totally apparent, and Peter’s whole return to Neverland is one huge nod to following through on your commitments and “finishing the game.” If you haven’t yet seen Hook, you need to watch it. It’s exceptionally good, and it holds up well even after all these years.
First and foremost, I should probably admit that I absolutely adore the movie Willow! I like it so much that I would probably try to find a way to work into any list about movies you should watch no matter what the theme was.
Want to watch movies like Armageddon? Check out Willow. Looking for movies similar to Alice in Wonderland? Try Willow. Are you missing Game of Thrones? Willow is a great alternative! I’m joking, of course, but I do love this movie.
I also happen to believe it does have quite a bit in common with Jumanji. The types of obstacles and dangers that Willow Ufgood, played by Warwick Davis, faces are different from those faced by the characters in Jumanji, but they’re just as dangerous and as potentially deadly, especially considering Willow is a nelwyn, which is a species known for being extremely small and peaceful. (Think hobbits from the shire.) Plus, this movie just makes you feel good when watching it. It’s such a good movie, and it’s perfect for family movie night, just like Jumanji.
The Croods (2013)
There aren’t many animated movies out there that I’d compare with Jumanji, but The Croods is an exception. The whole movie is about the world’s last surviving caveman family’s quest to survive in a world overrun with wild animals, carnivorous plants and other dangers.
Despite not being a live action movie, there’s plenty of action, adventure and comedy. Additionally, when Alan Parrish is first brought back from the world of Jumanji, he’s very caveman-like, so whenever I see a movie about cavemen, it always reminds me at least a little of Jumanji.
Tomb Raider (2018)
In the relatively new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft faces one dangerous obstacle after another on her quest to find out what happened to her missing father. There are no board games involved, and there are no young children either, but this movie is absolutely action- and adventure-packed, and it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat much like Jumanji did the first time you watched it.
Remaining loyal, staying the course and always following through, even when things look entirely too grim to go on are also common themes of this 2018 reboot of the original movie that starred Angelina Jolie.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
One of the things that makes this movie so much like Jumanji is that when it first came out, there had never been anything like it. It was a totally different type of family movie, and people went crazy for it. It was imaginative, unique and just plain fun.
Although there have been other movies made since that are similar, it’s still a great movie to watch. Rick Moranis’ character will absolutely remind you of Robin Williams’ character in Jumanji, and the group of child actors that get shrunk by Moranis’ character’s shrinking device are absolutely brilliant in their roles.
There’s also a ton of dangers around every corner because the kids are about an inch tall, and everything, even common ants, is dangerous when you’re one inch tall, and something like the family dog or your parents’ shoes are downright deadly. Watching the kids face these obstacles will definitely put you in mind of watching the Jumanji group battle their own wild animals.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
Based on the popular series of children’s books by C.S. Lewis, there were a few of these movies made in the early-2000’s, but the first one is really the only one worth watching, in my opinion. It’s also the one most like Jumanji. The movie follows pretty closely along with the plot of the book.
It’s about the four Pevensie siblings who are sent away from home to avoid the terror of World War II. At a distant relative’s home, they find a wardrobe that leads them to a magical world full of talking animals and fairy tale creatures.
It’s the perfect example of a family adventure movie, and it gives Jumanji a run for its money in terms of being a heartwarming family film. There are plenty of action scenes, obstacles to overcome and fights with wild animals in both movies, but the main parallels can be drawn from the overwhelming sense of goodness you get from watching both films.
The Indiana Jones Franchise (1981-2008)
When it comes to amazing family adventure movies, you can’t really beat Indiana Jones. These movies are the ultimate action/adventure movies, and they find Indy encountering numerous obstacles and foes at every turn.
The movies also have that ‘feel-good’ vibe to them, and they have something for everyone in your family to enjoy, whether they’re action fans, fans of puzzle/quest movies or if they just like Harrison Ford movies.
One of the best things about Jumanji is that there’s never a dull moment. It’s always exciting, and you never know exactly what’s coming next. The same is true of the Indiana Jones movies.
In fact, the L.A. Times called the 2017 Jumanji remake “John Holmes meets Indiana Jones,” and it was one of the most accurate descriptions of a movie I’ve ever read. This never could have been true if the original Jumanji wasn’t so much like Indiana Jones already.
Labyrinth doesn’t have a lot in common with Jumanji as far as the plot goes, but you’ll get that same good feeling of warmheartedness, nostalgia and happiness from watching it. Labyrinth is a true classic, and it’s known for putting a smile on the face of just about anyone who watches it.
There’s also plenty of adventure and a touch of comedy. While David Bowie is no Robin Williams, he brings his own flair to his leading role. Jennifer Connelly is also great in her role as well.
The Harry Potter Movies (2001-2011)
As of the year 2020, I don’t think I know anyone left who hasn’t watched at least one Harry Potter film. In fact, most people I know have seen them all… numerous times! If, by some chance, you haven’t seen one of these films yet, you should definitely give them a shot. Everyone knows the basic premise – three young wizards face all kinds of trials, obstacles and dangers in an ultimate quest to destroy the most powerful, evil wizard in the world.
The family-friendly adventure and the pitting of children against overpowering odds are both very reminiscent of Jumanji. Because the movies are based on a popular series of young adult books, you’ll also get that same calm anticipation feeling that keeps you wondering what’s next even as you know everything will work out just fine in the end. It’s a great series to watch, especially if you have children who haven’t yet seen it.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) & Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
I can’t even really tell you why I always equate the Guardians of the Galaxy movies with Jumanji. Logically, the two aren’t that much alike, but there’s something in the way that I feel when I watch one of them that always makes me think of watching the other.
By the same token, watching one usually makes me want to watch the other. My son and I will be binge-watching the Marvel movies, and when we get to GotG, I always get about halfway through and say, “I want to watch Jumanji again.”
I never even realized it until my son pointed it out to me. One of the most recent times this happened, he kind of rolled his eyes. I asked him what the eye roll was for, and he responded, “You say that every time we watch this movie, Mom.”
As I thought about it, I realized he was right. Maybe it’s Chris Pratt’s lovable, almost childlike demeanor, or maybe it’s all the action-packed scenes and adventure. Whatever the reason, these two movies will always go hand-in-hand with Jumanji for me.
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Okay, so the plot of Mrs. Doubtfire doesn’t really have anything in common with the plot of Jumanji, but if your favorite part of Jumanji is Robin Williams – he’s my personal favorite part – then you have to watch (or rewatch) Mrs. Doubtfire.
If you have never seen this movie, you can’t possibly imagine how amazingly good, warmhearted and funny it is. If you have seen it but it’s been several years, you probably don’t remember how good, warmhearted and funny it is. Plus, you’ll get some serious nostalgia from this one.