I Write These Movie Reviews Locked in the Trunk of Your Car. Thanks for the Snacks!!
Jake Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner, and Scott Rosenberg
Are you looking to dump the kids off this Friday the 13th weekend since you were forced to spend Thanksgiving with your first family and you saw Frozen 2 more times than you can count with the one hand that wasn’t amputated due to frostbite? Now you get to see your other family, the family you really love.
Well, you can still see Frozen 2 yet again. You don’t want to, but the kids you actually care about do.
As an alternative, may I present Jumanji The Next Level. Not because it’s good or anything but because it’s technically opening. Not that something like Jumanji needs a review because $$$$ regardless of how good it is.
“Good” is relative because it’s f*cking Jumanji. When was the last time you cared about “quality” in a Dwayne Johnson movie? It sure wasn’t Hobbs and Shaw or the 6 other movies he’s starred in this year.
I don’t mean this in a derogatory way. There’s a reason Johnson is one of the highest paid actors in the world. Sometimes you need disposable entertainment that you forget about as soon as the credits roll, and if there’s someone whose movies fit that bill, it’s Dwayne Johnson.
I remember seeing Rampage and that Die Hard ripoff he did in theaters way back in 2018, though I couldn’t tell you what happened in any of them. Rest assured I had a completely passable time.
You mean Kevin Hart?
Anyway, since 2017’s Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle made so much money and white people only see Kevin Hart films if they also star the Rock, it was inevitable that there would be a sequel to the reboot to the Robin Williams movie from 1995.
Having seen both of the new Jumanjis, I’m wondering when Kristen Dunst will make her return.
You heard it here first. Kirsten Dunst is not available for another Jumanji reboot sequel.
Okay, that wasn’t necessary Kirsten Dunst. Clearly you’re done with that movie and moved on to high quality projects like Fargo Season 2 and Bring It On.
Let’s move on to the review. I have to dry off because Kirsten Dunst was such a wet blanket.
Yes, I believe that was 8 Spider-Mans ago. Spider-Men?
Jumanji The Next Level opens right after the Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle end credits…only a year later.
Our 4 friends from the previous movie have graduated high school and are now in college. They are…
- Blonde White Girl (Madison Iseman)- Yup, she’s still blonde and white.
- Athletic Black Guy (Ser’ Darius Blain)- Still black and now even more athletic than he was in high school. Good job and congratulations on not getting killed by the cops until Jumanji 3.
- Ginger White Girl (Morgan Turner)- She was awkward in high school. Now she’s popular in college. She was dating the awkward white boy in the first movie, and now they’re taking a break.
- Awkward White Boy (Alex Wolff)- Great. Now I have to actually look up his character name because it kind of sets the ball rolling.
The internet told me his character name is Spencer. Told you I forgot about seeing the first movie even though I paid to see it in theaters (really, someone else bought my ticket – like I’m going to pay money to see Jumanji).
I went to the premiere and told security I was the Asian guy that gets crushed by a boulder in San Andreas. They believed me and I got to sit next to Nick Jonas.
Spencer is now in college in New York City and is not taking the world by storm. He works at a drugstore and is pretty sad with his lot in life. It’s the holiday season and Spencer, both White Girls, and Black Friend try to get together for brunch when they’re all on break.
Another side note- I will forever associate Alex Wolff (Spencer) as the awkward kid who slams his head into a desk and (SPOILER) in Hereditary. Thanks Ari Aster. So every time I mention Spencer, in my head I think “Hail Paimon!”
Spencer comes back home and is forced to share is room with his grandfather Eddie (Danny DeGlover).
In a random side plot, Grandpa Eddie is visited by his ex-friend and former business partner Milo (Danny GloVito) who he hasn’t seen in 15 years. Hope this reconciles itself before the end of the movie.
Spencer ditches brunch with his friends and goes down to the basement to shamefully pleasure himself in the dark while family pets watch. He then sees the busted console of the Jumanji game. He finds his way back into the game because that was the last time his worthless life had any meaning.
White Girls and Black Friend come over to Spencer’s house because he never showed up for brunch and failed to return their calls and texts. In their circle-of-friend parlance, “Failure” is just another word for “Spencer”.
They go to Spencer’s house and realize that he went back into the game.
Please hold while I now look up what Black Friend and White Girls character names are as this might be important.
Bethany (Blonde White Girl), Martha (Ginger) and Fridge (Black Friend) go back to Jumanji.
Only there’s a problem.
Instead of Spencer being the Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson- Central Intelligence) avatar, it’s now Grandpa Eddie.
Milo is now Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart- Central Intelligence).
Martha is still Martha (Karen Gillan, still in short shorts).
Fridge has now become the portly white gentleman in the dorky hat (Jack Black, still not black).
Not only must they find Spencer, but the game instructs them to find a McGuffin called the Falcon Jewel to save Jumanji. They must retrieve it from the villain-ly named Jurgen the Brutal (Rory McCann- not sure if this is a step up or down from Game of Thrones) and not get killed three times in the process.
It’s PG-13, so he’s really not that brutal.
Hope everything works out for them.
Actually, this plot is a lot more coherent and less stupid than any of Johnson’s Fast and Furious movies. And with no Vin Diesel mono-acting.
What Works With Jumanji The Next Level
- Karen Gillan’s performance stands out because most of her jokes actually land. None of her humor seems forced and she even nails the physical comedy. Every time a PG-13 joke clunks from Hart, Johnson or Black, leave it to Gillan to get the movie back on track.
- A sequence involving rope bridges is the only time the audience feels really involved in more than a genial way. Not sure if it’s because the scenes are genuinely exciting or because everything else that’s transpired is bland by comparison.
What Doesn’t Work With Jumanji The Next Level
- Jack Black “black” voice is either mildly racist or extremely racist. Either way, it’s grating and annoying. Same goes for Dwayne Johnson’s “Old Jewish” voice. Meryl Streep they are not.
- The usually dependable chemistry between Johnson and Hart is way off. It’s not that they’re just playing different characters from the first movie. It’s that they’re playing different characters whose lines really aren’t that funny. Most of Johnson’s jokes land with a thud and most of Hart’s jokes go on way past their expiration date.
A sequel that’s a level down from the original. If you like the first Jumanji, then you’ll more than likely be satisfied with The Next Level. You know you’re going to watch it regardless of what any reviews say, just lower your expectations to Kevin Hart levels.