What's Jumanji's big ending twist?
In your memory, the plot of the original Jumanji is probably simple -- kids play a game, unleash Robin Williams, and CG monkeys ensue -- but the actual story is more complex. The movie opens with a flashback to 1869, then jumps ahead a century and front-loads a bunch of backstory about the childhood of Robin Williams's character Alan Parrish, who gets his own little shout-out in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. For a movie that's mostly just an excuse to watch rhinos run wild, it's a relatively dense text.
Staying true to the spirit of the original movie, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle opens in 1996 with a Metallica-t-shirt-sporting teenager named Alex Vreeke receiving the dusty, old board game from his father, who apparently found it on a beach during a run. (Jumanji-heads will remember the game was thrown into a river at the end of the original but also discovered on a beach in the movie's final moment.) Being a cool, jaded '90s teen, Alex says "Board games? Who plays board games?" and tosses the wooden box aside. Feeling rejected, the Jumanji game then transforms into a video game to attract the attention of Alex's metal-fried lizard brain. Surprise: It works and Alex ends up getting sucked into the game.
Then the movie jumps to the present, introduces a whole new set of angsty teenagers in a Breakfast Club-like detention scenario, whisks them into Jumanji: The Video Game, and we don't see or hear from Alex for probably another hour in the film's runtime. Instead, the movie focuses on the nerdy boy Spencer who becomes adventurer Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) in the world of the video game. Similarly, the selfie-loving Bethany becomes Professor Sheldon Oberon (Jack Black), the book-reading Martha becomes Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), and the football-playing Fridge becomes Moose Finbar (Kevin Hart). That's right: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is also a body swap comedy!
So, what happened to Alex? When the trailers for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle first dropped, some Nick Jonas fans were disappointed that the former Disney star turned adult heartthrob wasn't featured prominently in the ad campaign. Worry not, #JonasHive: Nick makes an appearance about half-way through the movie as Seaplane McDonough, a pilot who we eventually learn is actually Alex. Unfortunately, he's been stuck in the game for 20 years, which he hasn't realized because of the weird way time passes in the world.
Anyway, he ends up helping our heroes escape the video game and develops a friendship with Professor Sheldon Oberon along the way. (I'm not going to parse the sexual politics of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle too closely, but there is a joke about Sheldon getting an erection after hugging Seaplane that feels airlifted in from some retrograde '80s yukfest.) While the main four teens end up back in detention, Alex isn't with them. Did he get shot out into 2017 as a teenager? Did he age those 20 years? What the hell is going on?