Jumanji! I thought, oh no, what could they possibly do that we haven’t already seen? I loved the first one with Robin Williams, classic. Jumanji, Welcome to the Jungle is one of my favorites — teens get sucked into a game, are forced to play to survive, and find that working as a team is the goal to ultimate success. For Jumanji – The Next Level, I was pleasantly surprised. There was a sufficient difference in the story (only a bit) and it was enjoyable to watch the actors, Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Awkwafina (I love her!), try to channel the other actors, Danny Devito and Danny Glover, and try to get through the game.
It was entertaining to watch Kevin Hart play the slow talking Danny Glover, and Dwayne Johnson channel Danny Devito being kissed by an old flame multiple times. These characters were in the house when the machine started the game and were unexpectedly pulled in. Spencer’s grandfather, played by Devito, has recently has a hip replacement and his friend Milo, played by Glover is there to visit.
The game is malfunctioning because it was broken, so it’s crazy from the start! It dragged a bit while we waited through the older characters trying to understand what was going on and Milo/Finbar slow talking his way through situations while folks lost some of their lives! It was a little hokey with the acting until they changed into the roles we remember by plunging into the magic water. The jokes were a little corny but overall it was a good story. There were great stunts, mean, wild animals, moving bridges, a flying horse, a fortress and a new jewel to find and Jumanji to save.
We did get a little millennial angst from Spencer, played by an unshaven Alex Wolf, who is having trouble in college and feeling insecure. He decides that he liked the way he felt when he was Dr. Bravestone and embarks on an adventure of his own. There were only small acting parts for his team from the first film as they venture in to the game to save him. Fridge, Brittany, Martha and even Alex from the first movie swoop in to save the day. There is a new bad guy, Jorgen the Brutal, played Rory McCann (from Game of Thrones), and various situations that are similar to the first movie but ok to watch because they are different actors doing the lines and reacting to the situations.
It’s all very entertaining, and you realize at the end they left it wide open for the next installment — at the beginning of the movie there was supposed to be a repairman coming to fix the boiler in the basement, where Spencer kept the broken Jumanji machine out in the open, begging to be touched by some unsuspecting person. Except this time, you don’t even need to touch anything, the smashed game just sucks you in without it! So who do you think went down to the basement? The repairman, who is an admitted gamer, and Spencer’s mother! You do the math. See it, Eat popcorn, Love it, Move on.