Based on an illustrated children’s book by Chris van Allsburg, author of Jumanji, which was only a so-so fantasy film, and The Polar Express, which was a damn good one. I’ve never seen any of these books, so I don’t know how faithful the movie versions are. I didn’t realize it, but this is a sequel to Jumanji.
There is a central problem with this film, at least for me and Lee. Two brothers are seriously pissed off at their parents for divorcing, and behave even more like assholes than boys their age typically act. For more than half of the movie, as their house crumbles around them when they play this mysterious game that leaves them floating in some outer space universe with breathable air, they bicker, they shout, they whine, they rail at each other. Obviously the lesson will be that they have to learn to work together to survive … but in the meantime, they are as obnoxious a pair of little pricks as I’ve ever seen in a movie. I worked up such a serious dislike for these rugrats that it was hard to try to like them when they began to learn the lesson. But it did perk up a bit toward the end. Look for the arrival of the “stranded astronaut” for things to start to look up. If you can make it that far. For us, it was a close thing.