Director: Jake Kasdan Release: December 4, 2019

The original Jumanji film is a childhood classic. Robin Williams gave life to a fantastical adventure that was headed by simple characters. So it was to my surprised that its sequel, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, was actually fun and exciting. The core cast of Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan had such electric chemistry and even with a silly premise (a board game coming to life is just as eccentric I guess) came together to make a really enjoyable film. Could a sequel that adds even more characters capture that same magic without feeling bloated?

The gang from the first film are now grown up and starting new lives apart from each other. Spenser, Marta, Bethany and Fridge are gathering to catch up and reminese about the good times. While coming home, Spenser is feeling lonely without Martha and wonders if he is good enough. Even advice from his grandfather Eddie (Danny Devito) isn’t helping him to overcome his anxiety. He decides to rebuild the game machine and replay Jumanji, hoping to capture the feeling of being strong like Bravestone. When he doesn’t show up for the get-together, the gang assumes the worst and jumps back into the game to save him. Things don’t go quite right, and Grandpa Eddie and his former business partner/friend Milo (Danny Glover) get sucked in as well. The game isn’t the same as before, this time the gang has to survive a new level of Jumanji.

The premise is basically the same, group of people get sucked into the game of Jumanji and have to survive with the power of friendship…but this time its found its groove. The cast feels right at home here, and again the chemistry is what makes this film feel natural. The players keep moving between characters throughout the film and try to find the best way to beat the game and survive. You can tell the actors are having a blast, constantly changing who they are being played as. I couldn’t get enough of Dwayne Johnson playing Danny Devito. Kevin Hart is hilarious as Danny Glover, somehow adding those two personalities injected life into a script I thought would get weighed down by the larger cast. Nope, it’s actually improved and I wanted to see what hijinks would ensue.

Should be noted that the script is also really padded by unnesseary scenes and just slapstick. Sometimes a scene will end and it just needs to move on since its only purpose was to provide temporary comedy to pad the run time. Why does this character have a specific weakness? So we can have this scene. The event isn’t even resolved, someone will just lose a life and they have to run away. The interactions between everyone is enjoyable throughout, I never did get tired of seeing the group split up and regroup several times, you just get that nagging feeling that what you just watched was there to justify its run time.

It’s hard to stay mad at Jumanji: The Next Level for long. Even as I watched an entire scene I knew was basically pointless, the characters and strong comedic acting was always putting a smile on my face. The narrative is also fairly lackluster, it’s another fetch quest with a standard evil villain, just like the previous film. If you enjoyed the first movie (Robin Williams) and Welcome to the Jungle then you will find this outting just an enjoyable.

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