Laugh out loud with this one
By Priyanka Loonker
Like its predecessor, this latest “Jumanji” movie combines fantasy action and adventure with some comedy, and real-life lessons about courage, friendship, and empathy—all with the help of some low-key race and gender fluidity.
Four teenagers of varying social positions would be forced to inhabit the bodies of avatars that looked suspiciously like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan. The stars, then, would also be forced to inhabit the teenagers. Dwayne Johnson would improbably play an insecure nerd, Kevin Hart a strapping athlete frustrated by his newly diminutive frame, Jack Black a popular queen bee type shocked to find herself as a middle-aged man, and Karen Gillan an awkward girl shocked by her newfound action-heroine coordination.
At the end of the last film, the four high school students who got sucked into an old-school video game console and found themselves turned into archetypal adventure heroes (some more heroic than others), were so happy to get home that they smashed the game.
The new Jumanji movies are, at their heart, body-swap comedies. The teenage characters, back in their normal forms, have been separated for their first semester at college and are reuniting for holiday break. Spencer (Alex Wolff), pining for his time in Dwayne Johnson’s super-body avatar, impulsively heeds the call of the broken video game console and gets sucked back into the world of Jumanji. Once his friends realize what’s happened, they set out to rescue him.
For pure laughs, The Next Level might outdo its predecessor. Hart milks a funny running gag about the leisurely pace of Milo’s speech, which would be maddening if not for its unflagging good nature, which somehow makes it funnier. It’s also a kick to see the artist formerly known as The Rock scrunch up his face and bark “HAH?” in confusion, suggesting that Grandpa Eddie has less of a hearing problem than a comprehension one.
This is a family entertainer for all ages. Nothing can beat the original Robin William Jumanji but still it’s filled with fun adventure. Do catch it over the holidays.