Let’s be honest, no one was clamoring for a Jumanji reboot. Then, with its hilarious cast and director, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle became a huge hit in 2017. So it should come as no surprise that now we have Jumanji: The Next Level. Thankfully, almost everyone has returned — a couple of the first film’s writers have been replaced by director Jake Kasdan — to deliver a sequel that follows the two most important comedy adventure rules: bigger and funnier.
It’s Christmas break and the gang — Spencer (Alex Wolff), Martha (Morgan Turner), Bethany (Madison Iseman), and Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) — are headed home from college and other excursions. While they make plans to meet, Spencer regresses to his reclusive ways and takes another trip inside Jumanji to deal with his insecurities. Everyone bands together to head into the game to find Spencer, but little do they know that Jumanji has its own plans and the rules, and players, have changed. Now — along with Spencer’s grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito), and Eddie’s lifelong friend Milo (Danny Glover) — they’ll have to relearn everything from their first adventure if they want to get out alive.
No one should ever walk into a film like Jumanji expecting to find much meaning. It’s pure escapism from start to finish, just like the first one. As for characters, it doesn’t really do much in the way of deepening relationships, but it does offer some of the cast the opportunity to play new characters. Kasdan is having just as much fun with a few bigger set pieces — one feels like Jurassic Park meets Mad Max — and the screenplay moves things along at a clip. It definitely earns its two-hour runtime which sounded excessive. But with the cast’s rapport and ability to play off each other, Jumanji: The Next Level makes for a super fun two hours. And right now, that’s exactly the kind of entertainment we need most.