Joe Johnston's background in visual effects served him well with this light-hearted romp, in which the laws of the jungle and the rules of a board game come into frenzied contact.
When a mysterious game - "Jumanji" - is unearthed on a construction site, 12-year-old Alan Parrish (Adam Hann-Byrd) can't wait to start playing it with his schoolfriend Sarah Whittle (Laura Bundy). But no sooner has he rolled the dice than he is sucked into the game and Sarah is chased out of the house by a horde of vampire bats.
25 years later, orphaned siblings Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) find the game and unwittingly repeat Alan's mistake. To their amazement, a fully-grown and very hirsute Alan (Robin Williams) appears out of the ether - closely followed by a hungry lion, stampeding elephants and a zoo's worth of mischievous monkeys.
The havoc this madcap menagerie bring to one peaceful New England town has to be seen to be disbelieved. But take away the CGI mayhem and what emerges is a rather touching tale of second chances and innocence prematurely lost.
It certainly didn't do Johnston's career any harm: this year he's directing the second sequel to megahit "Jurassic Park". For Williams, however, "Jumanji" signalled the start of a cycle of family-oriented films in which the anarchic edge of old was supplanted by gruesome sentimentality. Astonishing to think the chubby star of "Bicentennial Man" and "Patch Adams" is the same actor from "Good Morning Vietnam" and "The Fisher King".
"Jumanji" is on BBC1 at 8.25pm, Monday 15th January 2001.