Jumanji: No More Levels Please

Jumanji: The Next Level arrived in theaters Dec. 13 and it took me this long to build up the confidence to go see it. I still can’t tell if that hesitation was because I was scared that the sequel was gonna suck or that it wouldn’t stink. Imagine a sequel not being bad! Hollywood could never, not even in this sequel. Sorry, Jumanji 2.


Pressing play on the newest Jumanji movie was a regret personally. Jumanji: The Next Level grossed $404.6 million at the domestic box office and I am left wondering how. It has Kevin Hart to thank, for sure.

Elyse Sommer, Managing Editor

We all love Kevin Hart here, right? What’s not to love about five feet four inches of pure comedic genius?  And the Rock is like a giant blend of the words “terrifying” and “huggable” at the same time. Plus, Jack Black is basically all of our childhoods wrapped in one sorta-chunky, bearded package.  The first Jumanji, where we had all these cool figures in one video game-turned-life, was, like, not super sucky, I actually found it sorta cool. But in predictable Hollywood fashion, the sequel stinks.  Man, it could have been so cool to have a sequel that doesn’t bite the bust. Next time, Hollywood. 

First off, we gotta talk about the idea of having another human in an avatar’s body. For example, the Rock not really being the Rock, but Spencer Gilpin then Grandpa Eddy.  Having to act like someone else is a talent that unfortunately Dwayne Johnson does not possess. Kevin Hart and Jack Black do a decent job of it, as well as Awkwafina, a new character introduced to the sequel, but the Rock is sort of an awkward actor in general.  I’ve never been able to get over his cringe-worthy performance as the exotic stepdad in “Journey 2 the Center of the Earth” with Josh Hutcherson and Vanessa Hudgens and I don’t think I ever will. When I watched that Brendan Fraser remake as a kid, I was totally memorized by Hutcherson (#TeamPeeta) but watching it again as a teenager, I was in physical pain, cringing so hard.  I felt a phantom pain of that moment in watching Jumanji: The Next Level and the Rock’s terrible attempt at a Danny DeVito accent.  Spoiler: I was so grateful to the cinema gods that he switched from poor old Grandpa Eddie back to Spencer.  At least while he was playing a timid nerd, he could play up his own awkward acting style.  

They really tried to play up the whole avatar thing, a little too much, in my opinion.  So, valiant try, Sony, but no.  

Not going to lie, I totally watched the first Jumanji as I was writing this review for the lame second one and I am shocked at the differences between the two.  The second is a disgrace to the hilarious duo that is Dwayne and Kevin. There were more action scenes and quests and horses (?) for some reason in The Next Level that distracted from the characters, the one thing that really made the first one decent.  So we get weird characters in avatars not meant to play them, if that makes sense, and a dizzying array of physical stunts and cringe stand-offs. 

In short, I am not the biggest fan. The zingy one-liners from a few of the characters in a few short moments were not enough to salvage an attempt by Hollywood to score another big hit.