Jumanji: The Next Level

Jumanji The Next Level

Writing MovieWRONGS

By Jim West

Jumanji:  The Next Level

Directed by Jake Kasdan

Written by Jake Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner, and Scott Rosenberg

The  Jumanji series has long been an audience favorite at the box office.  The great Robin Williams anchored the original film back in 1995.  In 2017, we got the new Jumanji complete with Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillam.  Combining Johnson and Hart is always a recipe for success at the box office and audiences love these actors.  Bringing in Danny Devito and Danny Glover was a solid decision and good way to bring everyone back into the game.  There were some neat ideas introduced with the changeup of characters, and certain sequences were nice eye candy yet failed to capitalize on some humor.

Here comes the spoilers.

Spencer, Anthony, Martha,, and Bethany are now in college and living different lives.  They still stay in touch, but Spencer and Martha are no longer as close as they once were and Spencer is taking it very hard.  He ignores the groups messages about a reunion.  The rest meetup and decide to go over to Spencer’s house and when they do they discover he has entered the game again.  They decide to go in after him and viola we have a sequel.  Spencer grandfather (Devito) and his old business partner and former friend (Glover) get pulled into the game and represented as avatars Dr. Smolder Bravestone and Franklin Finbar.  Only Martha gets back as Ruby Roundhouse, and they also discover their strengths and weaknesses are different this time.  This is used for good comedic effect and I felt they could have done a bit more here with this idea.  They track Spencer who is in a new avatar of a thief named Ming Fleetfoot.  They now must face the new bad guy named Jurgen who is a warlord that has stolen the Falcon Heart Necklace and threatens the peace in the world of Jumanji. 

Chases sequences with ostriches and later monkeys where nice eye candy, but here is what I would have added to the film – use these creatures in the climax.  The ostriches should have been constantly chasing after the team.  Have them keep appearing trying to stampeded our heroes.  Even the monkeys should also come after the heroes.  Why?  Because the game aka code is treating them as a virus and attacking them.  Easy explanation and how they would be ‘tracked’.  It is a game after all.  I think this would have elevated the climax more when the creatures realize the heroes are there to save their world and they help our heroes fight against Jurgen and his men. 

I also felt the final fight scene between Spencer and Jurgen was too cliché.  All of the heroes should have had a part in defeating him together.  This is a key story element hugely missed here.  Now the story between Devito and Glover is handled every well here and that was well written with no improvements I would make.

I think there is definitely room for a third film, and the key is how can they bring these characters back again when they have potentially families and adult lives.  My suggestion is the idea of one last adventure before starting a family or walking down an aisle, or just showing that you can have fun no matter your age.  Quite a few themes to work with.  Yet the ideas of new avatars and changeups of strengths and weaknesses are the key to keeping this series of films funny and fresh.  As long as the writers can infuse the human aspect of these heroes relationships better and utilize everything for maximum comedic effect these will continue to be a box office success with highly rewatchability.

Thanks for reading Writing Movie ‘WRONGS’.   

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