Review: Jumanji – The Next Level

Well I will say right off the bat that I thoroughly enjoyed the original Jumanji. Sorry let me rephrase that. I thoroughly enjoyed the first movie in the reboot of Jumanji. I hadn’t known what to expect then so I was surprised by just how much fun I had. But that experience helped set high expectations for the second film of the reboot so it was with crossed fingers that I plonked myself down in the theatre. Thankfully it didn’t disappoint and there was still a great deal of fun to be had.

Jumanji: The Next Level picks up a year or so after the events of the first movie with Spencer, Fridge, Martha and Bethany all at different places in their lives, attending college, volunteering and pursuing a career in sports. They are all happy except Spencer who is having something of a crisis that has resulted in him giving up on his long distance relationship with Martha. And his funk only gets worse when he heads home for the holidays.

When he arrives he finds that he is sharing his bedroom with his crotchety grandfather Eddie (Danny Devito) who is recovering from hip surgery and trying to avoid an old friend Milo (Danny Glover) who is attempting to reconnect with him after they had a falling out. Spencer’s negative feelings get the better of him and in an attempt to boost his confidence he re-enters the Jumanji game. Remember the first time around he became the hero Dr Bravestone but things don’t quite go to plan this time. His friends come looking for him, realise what has happened and also re-enter the game so they can bring Spencer out. But they pick up a few extra passengers from the ‘real’ world and when they arrive in Jumanji they find that they haven’t resumed their former persona’s with the exception of Matha as Ruby Roundhouse.They again have a quest to complete with the aid of specific strengths and weaknesses and three lives only. 

From there let the adventures begin …

I have decided that I’m not going to analyse this film (the last I saw in 2019) in any great depth. There will be no picking apart it’s various elements such as plot (very satisfactory) or production (it looked gorgeous). Instead I’m going to say how much of a good time I had watching it because, quite frankly, I did.

I laughed … a lot as did every other person in the theatre who saw it with me. Sure, the humour is not super sophisticated but it works. Kevin Hart and Jack Black are terrific in their individual performances and they happen to share a very funny scene which ends with Hart having to admit (all in the name of masquerading as someone else) that he has no testicles (they are there is spirit though). Trust me on this.

The Rock again shows that the big guy has acting chops and can deliver funny lines very well. He is not just all biceps and muscles … although his arms should be recognised as the eighth and ninth wonders of the world. I mean have you seen them! He appears to be right at home in this role which seems to undercut the general perception of his tough guy action hero. He doesn’t appear afraid to take a dig at himself and his image.

And, as with the first movie, many of the highlights occur when watching the leads, who are in their gameworld forms, act in the various guise’s of their real world counterparts. I know that sounds confusing but it all makes sense when you’re watching. This is taken up a notch with the Rock taking on the mantle of the bad tempered grandfather and Kevin Hart his mellow former friend. Picture the Rock doing a fantastic impression of Danny Devito and Kevin Hart the same for Danny Glover and you’ll understand how much fun this is to watch. 

And because the characters within the game switch persona’s on several occasions, there is ample opportunity to see them ham it up as they change personality types. Jack Black goes from the macho workout junkie Fridge to girly girl Bethany without blinking an eye. Like i said, not sophisticated but honestly, who cares if it works.

Awkwafina is a very welcome addition to the cast and for much of the time is actually underplaying it as crisis ridden Spencer’s first Jumanji character. Nick Jonas returns and looks very dashing in his fly boy uniform, there is a beautiful flying black horse, a jewel to retrieve and a herd of rampaging ostriches and vicious mandrills to avoid. What more could you want!

Look I really enjoyed this movie. I heartily recommend it (and its predecessor) if you’re looking for some laughs and a good time. 

Bonus … you get to see the Rock smoulder!

Rating: Four stars

Watched: 27 December 2019

(Header Image: Rene Asmussen)

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