So, the first Jumanji movie, Welcome to the Jungle, ended up being a much bigger blast than I was anticipating, despite the number of unnecessary dick jokes. And god bless Jumanji, but it really was the rare family film that both adults and (slightly older) kids could enjoy together. I felt a little guilty about how much I liked it, but The Rock, Jack Black, problematic Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan were all fantastic and Rhys Darby sealed the deal. It was infectiously funny.
That said, we live in an era where almost everything is a sequel or a reboot (and this is a sequel to a reboot), and audiences are getting tired of seeing the same exact characters in movie theaters week after week. The box office this summer certainly reflects that in movies like Men in Black: International, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Shaft, Dark Phoenix, and Child’s Play, among others. What could Jumanji: The Next Level possibly do to keep its premise fresh and interesting, so that it can be the rare exception to franchise fatigue, like John Wick 3 and Avengers: Endgame?
Well, actually, they might have struck gold here … or at least, gold-plated rock. While Jack Black, The Rock, Karen Gillan, and problematic Kevin Hart return to their video-game world for another adventure, it’s different this time because different people inhabit their avatars in the Jumanji world. How different? Well, The Rock avatar is being played by Danny Devito, Kevin Hart’s avatar will be played by Danny Glover, and Jack Black’s body is being inhabited by Ser’Darius Blain, who inhabited Kevin Hart’s body in the original. Only Morgan Turner returns in the same body, that of Karen Gillan, who is now the veteran voice of reason, and she’s still wearing that ridiculously skimpy outfit, which causes my feminist critic and inner heterosexual male to awkwardly fight at the dinner table in front of the kids.
Nick Jonas also returns, and the sequel will feature Awkwafina and Colin Hanks. I don’t hate it, mostly because the idea of Danny Devito in the body of The Rock is weirdly hilarious.
Jumanji: Next Level opens this Christmas.
Header Image Source: Sony Pictures