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  Welcome to the Jungle Who's The Boss?
Year: 2013
Director: Rob Meltzer
Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Adam Brody, Rob Huebel, Kristen Schaal, Megan Boone, Eric Edelstein, Dennis Haysbert, Aaron Takahashi, Robert Peters, Juan C. Defendi, Bianca Bree, Stephanie Lopez, Kristopher Van Varenberg, Michael J. Morris, Mark Sherman
Genre: Comedy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Chris (Adam Brody) has fallen asleep at his desk, and was just enjoying a great dream about how the latest advertising campaign for toilet rolls was a big hit, so much so that everyone in the agency loved him and the most attractive co-worker there, Lisa (Megan Boone) wanted to have his babies. Alas, things are rather different in the real world, and his supervisor Phil (Rob Huebel) informs him this campaign just won't work out after he persuades Chris to pitch it to him - which makes it all the more galling that Phil proceeds to steal the whole idea, and to add insult to injury the client loves it. Chris tries complaining to his boss (Dennis Haysbert) but his grievances fall on deaf ears, so will the new staff outing settle any differences?

Although Welcome to the Jungle was often described as a spoof of Lord of the Flies, what was more accurate to assess it as was a spoof of such television series as Survivor and Lost. This was down to the premise of Jeff Kauffman's savvy script, which saw that office reluctantly traveling to a tropical island and winding up stranded when the pilot of the aeroplane suddenly expires. Not able to take off, they ponder their next move, which is complicated by the fact that the leader of the expedition is the ever so slightly deranged military man Storm, and he was played by action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme in an unexpected gem of a comedic performance that offered him a chance to flex some acting muscles rather than just his, er, actual muscles.

Storm is a macho man to the hilt, which in humour typical of this film is taken down a peg or two as it points out that straining to be the alpha male in every situation is a ridiculous endeavour in the modern, civilised society we are presumed to be living in. But it's not Storm who the office workers have to look out for, as one of their number proves far more treacherous; sure, the trainer got them stranded and then abandoned when he meets with a ludicrous mishap (you suspect he orchestrated that himself, then was helpless when it got out of hand), but Phil steps into the void left behind and rallies the staff into something approximating a parody of a descent into savagery that William Golding warned us about.

Phil, superbly realised by Huebel who really seized his opportunities in a larger movie role than he was used to, represents something that many have been worrying about for years: the triumph of the morons. Chris, seeing as how he has been a Scout Leader for quite some time, actually knows a goodly amount of survival tricks and initially the stranded workers rally around him, but following his advice begins to be too much like hard work very quickly, so when blowhard Phil starts accusing him of wanting to run things - instead of Phil, but he doesn't point that out - the others begin to get into a "how dare you tell us what to do, we don't need your sensible advice!" mindset which spells disaster and ultimately, an egomaniac Phil worshipped as their God.

Naturally Kauffman and director Rob Meltzer were using overstatement to comic effect, but if you'd ever been in a corporate situation where the empty vessels were making most noise and running the show, then you could well relate to this. If, on the other hand, you preferred Phil's suspicion of intelligence and basic decency, not to mention his quick adoption of political correctness as a straw man for his troops to attack, then it was probable you were not going to get on with Welcome to the Jungle. Well, that and the fact there wasn't enough Van Damme in it, though what there was assuredly counted to some highly entertaining sequences as Chris finds a small coterie of rebels who realise they'd be better off with someone they trust and is aware of what he is talking about. Along with Storm, they are bunny obsessive Kristen Schaal (making the most of salty dialogue spoken in her cartoonish voice), pot-smoking buddy Eric Edelstein who has technical knowledge, and level-headed Lisa who has newfound admiration for Chris. While silly and overdid things, it was smart and often hilarious. Music by Karl Preusser.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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