Review: 'Welcome to the Jungle'

By: Heather Seebach

The Muscles from Brussels takes a stab at comedy in this new comedy from Cinedigm and Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Welcome to the Jungle stars Adam Brody (Scream 4) as a timid "nice guy" working at a marketing agency with a beautiful girl he can't have (Megan Boone, My Bloody Valentine) and an asshole superior who steals his ideas (Rob Huebel, Hell Baby). When the boss sends everyone on a mandatory corporate retreat, the employees are taken to a remote island and taught leadership skills by former Marine, Storm Rothchild (Jean-Claude Van Damme). Things do not go as planned, however, and the team-building exercise turns into a struggle to survive.

I think this movie set out to be something like This Is The End, except it's a mixture of comedy and survival thriller (as opposed to horror). Unfortunately, it does not know what it wants to be. It's not dark enough to be Lord of the Flies and it's not funny enough to be a good comedy. It does have the benefit of some funny people, though, like Rob Huebel and Kristen Schaal. Huebel plays the prick, a role he's all too accustomed to on film, but still he's the best part of the movie. Schaal is underused but gets a few opportunities to flaunt her potty-mouthed humor.

As for Van Damme, he has proven he has a funny bone under all that muscle. We saw some of that humor in the fantastically meta JCVD (2008) but here he gets to be more overtly silly while still poking fun at himself. Unfortunately he is grossly underused in this film. I'd like to see Van Damme tackle a leading comedic role sometime. Can him and Dolph Lundgren please just make a buddy cop comedy together?! They're both funnier than they get credit for.

Welcome to the Jungle has its moments (like what happens to cubicle jockeys when they're stranded without coffee) but the jokes are too few and far-between. And the stabs at island madness are too light to give the impression of any real danger, so it fails as a survival thriller, as well. Nobody steps far outside of their comfort zone (except maybe Van Damme) and the script is pretty predictable. If you're a fan of the cast - namely, Huebel, Schaal, or JCVD - it's worth a watch but don't expect a ton of laughs.

Welcome to the Jungle is now showing in select theaters and is available on VOD.

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