Friday, December 27, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

Two Christmases ago our family enjoyed the funny and inventive comedy JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (2017). Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson led a good cast in the tale of four teenagers sucked into a video game who find themselves in new, adult bodies -- the game characters -- and then must work together to stay alive and find their way back home.

This Christmas everyone's back in a sequel, JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL (2019), and I'm glad to say it's as much fun as the first film.

This time around Spencer (Alex Wolff) is feeling insecure and his relationship with Martha (Morgan Turner) has hit a wall. When Spencer returns home from college for a break, he finds himself strangely tempted to get out the Jumanji video game tucked away in his basement and then disappears.

Spencer's friends Martha, Bethany (Madison Iseman), and Fridge (Ser'Darius Blain) decide they must also enter the game to bring Spencer back, but surprises are in store.

Spencer's elderly grandpa Eddie (Danny DeVito) and Eddie's friend Milo (Danny Glover) are also sucked into the game, and almost no one ends up with the expected avatar body,..for instance, Grandpa is in the body of Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). Only Martha returns as her game character from the previous movie, Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan). And where did Spencer end up, anyway?

Along with the returning Jack Black and Kevin Hart, Nick Jonas reprises the role he played briefly in the earlier film, and Awkwafina (OCEAN'S EIGHT, CRAZY RICH ASIANS) is on hand as a brand-new character.

The explanation up to this point probably sounds like Greek to anyone who's not seen the first movie, and it's honestly a bit difficult to explain, but it's easy to understand watching the film. It's all good fun, with a lot of enjoyable humor as the characters periodically swap bodies and deal with various crises while trying not to use up all their game lives.

Johnson and Gillan (Nebula from the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Marvel films) particularly shine in the leading roles. As I've said before, Johnson is a true Movie Star who can carry the weight of a film single-handedly on his massive shoulders, but happily there's no need for that thanks to the good cast. Bebe Neuwirth (FRASIER) even pops up in a closing scene.

The bottom line is anyone who enjoyed the prior film will have fun seeing this one as well, as it's more of the same.

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL was directed by Jake Kasdan, who also directed the earlier film. The movie also had the same cinematographer, Gyula Pados. The running time is 123 minutes.

Parental Advisory: This film is rated PG-13 for foul language. I frankly wish they had toned it down a notch. There are also a couple ribald or gross discussions, but nothing especially disturbing in terms of visuals. On the positive side, as with the first film there's an emphasis on teamwork and friendship.

A trailer is here.


Blogger DKoren said...

I'm really looking forward to this one, as I also really enjoyed the first one, way more than I was expecting. Really glad to hear the report that this one is good too!

8:51 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Deb! We all had a good time at this new edition, and I hope you do as well! Would love to hear what you think.

Best wishes,

9:21 AM  
Blogger Hamlette (Rachel) said...

I totally want to see both of these now.

6:01 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

They're pleasant fun, I hope you enjoy the movies when you see them! Always interested in feedback.

Best wishes,

9:02 AM  

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