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Jumanji: The Next Level, rated PG-13
** ½

Jumanji: The Next Level picks up two years after Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which grossed more than $400 million in the U.S. It is an entertaining film, but is marred by a lot of unnecessary adult language, including several abuses of God’s and Jesus’ names.
The film is directed by Golden Globe nominee Jake Kasdan (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story), and written by Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), and Scott Rosenberg (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle). The film had a budget of approximately $125 million, and grossed in excess of $60 million in the U.S. its opening weekend.
The stars of the first film are now college age. They’ve all pretty much gone their separate ways the past two years. Spencer, played by Alex Wolff, now a freshman at New York University, returns home for Christmas break. It has been difficult maintaining a long-distance relationship with Martha, played by Morgan Turner, and they have drifted apart as of late. Spencer’s grandfather Eddie, played by Oscar nominee Danny DeVito (Erin Brockovich), is recovering from hip surgery, so he is staying at Spencer’s parents’ home, and they have to share a room for a few weeks.
Milo, played by four-time Emmy nominee Danny Glover (Freedom Song, Fallen Angels, Lonesome Dove, Mandela), is Eddie’s former best friend, and they had owned a restaurant together before they had a falling out. Milo comes to the house to reconcile with Eddie after a number of years, but Eddie is not interested in patching things up.
Spencer misses the confidence he felt when he was Dr. Smolder Bravestone, played by Dwayne Johnson in the first film. Despite the danger that he and the others experienced in the video game, Spencer decides to go back into the video game.

When Spencer does not return, Martha, Bethany, played by Madison Iseman and Fridge, played by Ser’Darius Blainm, enter the game to rescue him. In the game, Martha is again the martial arts expert Ruby Roundhouse, played by Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy). But it’s Eddie, not Spencer, who shows up as Dr. Bravestone. Milo becomes zoologist Mouse Finbar, played by Kevin Hart (The Upside), and the Fridge becomes map expert Dr. Shelly Oberon, played by two-time Golden Globe nominee Jack Black (Bernie, The School of Rock).
Nigel, played by Rhys Darby, picks them up in his plane and explains their challenge. There is a new villain in Jumanji, a warlord named Jurgan the Brutal, played by Rory McCann (Game of Thrones). Jurgan has stolen the magical Falcon jewel from one of the elders. The fertility jewel protects Jumanji from drought. Their challenge is to recover the jewel, show it to the sun and shout “Jumanji”.
As in the first film, each avatar has three bars tattooed on their wrists representing one of each life the game allows. Each of the avatars has their own strengths and weaknesses.
Bethany shows up later, as does Alex, played by Colin Hanks, a character that they rescued in the first film, and Seaplane, played by Golden Globe nominee Nick Jonas (Ferdinand), as well as a new character Ming, played by Golden Globe nominee Awkwafina (The Farewell).
Their quest takes the characters through the desert to a fortress high atop an icy mountain. Will the team be able to avoid all of the danger in their way and recover the jewel and a Jumanji berry, which is the only thing that weakens Jurgan?
Of note is the production design is by Bill Brzeski (Aquaman), and the musical score by Henry Jackman (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain Phillips).
The film is a combination of fantasy action and adventure, comedy and romance. Themes in the film include courage, friendship, not holding grudges and forgiveness. Content concerns include action violence (fights, shootings, explosions), some of which will be too scary for young viewers, especially the scene with monkeys. There is also a surprising amount of adult language, including several abuses of God’s and Jesus’ names. As a result, the film would not be appropriate for young children.
Jumanji: The Next Level is an entertaining and enjoyable action adventure film with plenty of humor and a good cast. Unfortunately, the film does have a lot of adult language, and is not appropriate for viewers under the age of 8.
And don’t forget to sit through the credits for an additional scene.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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