Jumanji: The Next Level

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When the Jumanji film came out a few years ago, I rolled my eyes. Yet when I saw how they took the board game premise, and updated it to be a video game, I figured it was a reboot that might work. It was helped by the fact that The Rock and Kevin Hart had good chemistry (see Central Intelligence), but Jack Black playing a teen girl, was surprisingly inspired.

Jumanji: The Next Level, takes us to a level that just isn’t fun. It’s downright boring. The actors also have different voices they do. Black is no longer doing valley girl schtick, but Fridge, the African-American athlete of the bunch (and it makes you remember how funny Robert Downey, Jr. was in Tropical Thunder, which shocked everyone by garnering him an Oscar nomination). Hart is fun doing an impression of Danny Glover, because in the beginning, Glover shows up at Danny DeVito’s place, so they can bicker about the old times, before being sucked into the game. Watching those two sit at the breakfast table griping at each other, made me remember how unfunny Grumpy Old Men was.

And in one of the worst accents you might ever hear on screen, The Rock tries to impersonate DeVito’s New York/New Jersey accent, with horrid success. It doesn’t help that only a few of the jokes land.

The narrative is still the same, which means you’ll see animal attacks and the same villain. Awkwafina shows up as one of the characters, who was Spencer, a male college freshman. She has a few scenes that work (and she has better success with the DeVito accent; it’s a contrived reason for why she’ll end up being that grandpa character at the half way point). 

Most of the premises/jokes are just recycled from the previous Jumanji. And, it’s not that I’m a critic that just disses comedy sequels. I loved Deadpool 2 as much as the first.

I’m also not someone that is just critical of recycled stuff in lame comedies. For example, one of my complaints about The Irishman is that Scorsese borrowed a handful of scenes from his previous mobster movies.

I would give writer/director Jake Kasdan credit for how the film was shot, but some of the action scenes were weak. The story is so bad, though…I really don’t want to credit him for anything.

An ostrich that crushes a skull was fun, as well as the stampeding ostriches.

My wife asked the same question I was wondering in the beginning. If Spencer was so depressed about the break-up with his girlfriend, what did he think going back inside of a dangerous video game was going to do? None of the motivations of these characters made sense. Of course, the whole thing is utterly predictable. 

This is a sloppy sequel. I read somewhere that the movie was made and released in 10 months, which is a rather quick turnaround. They should’ve spent more time with this, starting with the script.

Apparently, these guys broke the video game the first time, so they wouldn’t be able to get sucked back into it. I hope they break the hands of the screenwriters to keep them from writing a third.

1 star out of 5 (one star only because Hart and Awkwafina were a little fun at first), but the movie is probably going to see a spot on my “worst of the year” list in a few weeks. 





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