Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) Cover

Despite being wilder and more cartoonish than its predecessor, Jumanji: The Next Level manages to maintain a more even tone which results in a better film. So that you know where I stand, I didn’t care for Welcome to the Jungle as it went too far in ways that broke the immersion for me. Oddly, The Next Level is more over the top but works better as a whole for improved consistency.

Overall, the highlight is still the lead actors. Somehow Jumanji as a franchise has pulled in some outstanding talent. Danny DeVito, Awkwafina, Jack Black, Danny Glover, Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, and a whole host of other outstanding performers are present. Even turning in subpar performances they’re still fun to watch.

The gag that works the best is watching Dwayne Johnson do his impression of Danny DeVito while Kevin Hart channels Danny Glover. It’s cheesy, light-hearted comedy that holds up for most of the runtime. Outside of the shift in tone and the mixup between the characters, The Next Level doesn’t change much around the formula.

No mistake, though, it is a formula. If you enjoy the franchise, you’ll keep getting these for as long as they’re profitable at this point. These are light on substance as well as style. The strongest statement you can make is that it’s a neutered shadow of the original Jumanji. That’s a toothless critique, though, because it’s not trying to be more than that. As Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade would phrase it, it’s like making fun of a clown for having big feet.

But, to me it’s important. I loved the original, and as the years have gone by and the sheen has faded I’d like to see something as imaginative and emotional to take its place. I’d also like to see better work from this cast. They’re not just comedians but all outstanding actors that deserve to add something sincere. They deserve a story that has enough heart for them to put some soul into it.

That’s not fair, though. That’s not this film’s fault or even its responsibility. It’s fun, lighthearted, and entertaining. There’s more important stuff out there, but this will do in a pinch. It’s funny and inoffensive.

Final Verdict:It's fine. Just fine. It's better than the last one.