Welcome to the Jungle Blu-ray Review
Every year there are a lot of schlocky, awful films released both to theaters and to the direct-to-home video markets. This month when I received WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, the first thing that came to mind was this exact thought, “oh god, I just hope it isn’t as awful as the cover makes me think it is going to be.” First off, featured prominently on the cover of the Blu-ray is a well-known commodity from the ‘80s and ‘90s (my wheelhouse), Mr. Jean-Claude Van Damme. And Mr. Van Damme is looking… well, he’s looking OLD. So why would he be featured in a movie like this starring Adam Brody (THE O.C.)? I’m pleased to say it’s because the filmmakers (and, I’m assuming, Van Damme himself) all got the joke and really made it work.
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE is a surprisingly good comedy for anyone who has ever had to endure the drudgery of working in an office. The story is simple and ludicrous (though all the more funny for it): During an extreme leadership/team-building exercise with ‘certified team-building instructor’ Storm Rothchild (Van Damme) the entire office is marooned on an island with only Mr. Rothchild to keep them safe… until he is mauled repeatedly by a tiger. Soon the things that regularly might drive you crazy about working in an office are taken to hilarious extremes, going further and further with great results.
The politics, the in-fighting and backstabbing, the gossiping; all of it is played with a sort of perfect enthusiasm, low enough in intensity to remind us of situations we’ve all encountered in a workplace but clearly exaggerated and taken to its own worst possible conclusion. This isn’t a comedy that draws upon the authenticity and universality of the situation it presents; WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE is all farce. Thankfully the actors took it seriously while having a fun time that transfers pretty well to the viewer.
Speaking of acting, Van Damme’s performance in WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE is actually one of the best things about the movie. He clearly gets the joke and goes all the way in a role that sometimes very clearly makes fun of his perceived persona. The interplay of the ensemble cast is also a high point, with Adam Brody playing the guy who’s just too nice and Rob Heubel playing the smarmy but charismatic office jerk Phil. You might remember this character from the very similar one he played in I LOVE YOU MAN (favorite line: “That’s right. You’re pissing on my face friend”). Other notables from the film include Kristen Schaal who plays a creepy but honorable lover of rabbits, Megan Boone as the love interest/Human Resources lady Lisa.
All-in-all, WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE is a surprisingly fun ride. It has just enough awful to be nice guilty pleasure for some of you and others will just like it outright. The only problem I have is that there isn’t really a new ground tread by the movie; it is a fairly typical somewhat random comedy… but it does feature some beautiful locales that are shot with a great deal of talent by new feature filmmaker Rob Meltzer. This isn’t a movie for everyone as things get a little bit crazy by the end but for most folks I think this will be a welcome addition to your rental queue and a surprisingly fun evening.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.35:1) WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE is colorful and beautifully presented in full 1080p high definition, creating a vibrant palette within which we are immersed for this exaggerated right.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio is presented well with an impressively dynamic range of sounds with very few problems. The dialogue is clear and easily heard despite the wide range of activites captured in WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE. Technically, the blu-ray provides a phenomenal presentation.
Behind the Scenes (59:13) About an hour of behind the scenes footage from the shooting of WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE is presented on the Blu-ray. Sadly there are few entertaining moments to this feature… more a stroke to cast and crew than a feature included for the viewer. In addition to the behind the scenes footage there are quite a few quick interviews with the cast as well.
Deleted Scenes (01:25) Very short, a little bit of footage cut from WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE is presented here as “deleted scenes” but there’s basically only one scene here.