Premiering December 13, Jumanji 2: The Next Level is a continuation of the original 2017 winter blockbuster. Featuring popular actors Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan, the film is a modern comedic, action-packed take on the original story of a killer board game.
With the original four characters (Bethany, Spencer, Martha, and Fridge) returning for another adventure, the second installation introduces two new players: Spencer’s grandfather Eddie, played by Danny DeVito, and Mr. Milo Walker, played by Danny Glover. These two characters brought with them fantastic one-liners as they struggled to understand the concept of being trapped in a video game.
As in any Danny DeVito film, the comedic timing and writing was pure genius, living up to its prequel’s hilarity. At every turn there was a snarky comment or exaggerated reaction to laugh at; perhaps the greatest success of the movie is casting great actors to carry even an even greater script.
Despite the comedic genius, the movie failed in its attempt at the central sob-story. It is main character Spencer’s idea to return to Jumanji, which he does by himself. In a brief and out-of-place moment, Spencer admits he put himself back in mortal danger because he wanted to feel like he “could do anything” again. This explanation was met with sympathy and guilt from the others, although to audiences came across as melodramatic and poorly timed.
The idea of sudden insecurity driving a boy to return to an unpredictable, man-eating monster of a game was not addressed throughout the rest of the movie and left an odd taste in the mouths of viewers.
The emotion was redeemed however, with a few well-placed scenes that contained subtle but tear-jerking dialogue and multiple near-death experiences to recognize the invaluable worth of friendship. The heartwarming bond between Eddie and Milo, having owned a restaurant together years prior, it was revealed that they bitterly parted ways upon its closing. It was a touching scene when Milo decided to stay in the game after they’d won (in pegasus form, too) and Eddie embraces him in a moment of true reconciliation, bringing the film to a full-circle resolution. Old friends who are learning to accept each other again, albeit in a killer desert, the new additions to the story gives the movie the emotional substance it seemed to lack.
Make sure to stay after the first round of credits, the scene that follows makes the intentions of a third movie clear. The Jumanji movies are a soon-to-be trilogy that are worth watching!