MOVIE REVIEW: Jumanji: The Next Level

With a fair bit of swearing, you'd probably think twice before taking the kids to this sequel.

By Focus on the Family Singapore | 17 December 2019

Getting sucked into a magical video game and nearly dying has a way of changing you. It certainly did for Spencer and his friends. It made this quartet of completely disparate teens— super-jock Fridge, cool-girl Bethany, geeky Spencer and brainy Martha—friends, for one thing.

Time can change things too. In the two years since their death-defying experience (in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), they’ve all gone their separate ways. Even Spencer and Martha—the two who came out of the game as a definite couple—have also drifted apart.

So, when Spencer heads home to meet up with his pals over Christmas break from the NYC university he’s now attending, he’s feeling a bit less excited than he expected. Which is why he digs the pieces of the smashed up Jumanji video game console out of a box in his basement. It’s crazy, in light of all that happened before. But Spencer longs for the thrill of playing his heroic in-game avatar, Dr Smoulder Bravestone.

Before you can say, “What were you thinking!?”, Spencer and his pals are once again sucked into the dangerous video game world of Jumanji. Only this time, Spencer’s octogenarian Grandpa Eddie gets pulled into the story, too. And Grandpa Eddie hits the digital ground running in the role of the hero, Bravestone, instead of Spencer.

Which raises the important question: Can a hero be incredibly muscular … and crotchety?


POSITIVE ELEMENTS

Spencer’s grandfather, Eddie, and his former business partner and best friend, Milo, are both pulled into the world of Jumanji along with the younger folks. At first, the two are at odds due to an unresolved conflict from years before. But as the Jumanji adventure unfolds, they gradually realise how much their friendship means to them, and they both ask for forgiveness for things they’ve said in anger over the years.

That moment of reconciliation also changes Grandpa Eddie’s attitude about life. Early on, he limps around with his bad hip and grouses crudely, “Getting old sucks!” But after reconciling with his friend, talking through their past together and surviving the dangerous video game journey, Eddie tells Spencer: “Getting old is a gift.”

In like manner, Spencer’s attitude about his life improves. He and his friends rally together, rely on one another, and unanimously voice their devotion. They repeatedly put their lives on the line to save each other (and the land of Jumanji) as well.


SEXUAL CONTENT

As was the case in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Martha plays as an acrobatic female warrior named Ruby Roundhouse. Ruby wears a shorts-and-crop-top outfit, à la Lara Croft, that exposes quite a bit of her muscular form.

Smoulder Bravestone is also quite muscular. The character kisses Ruby passionately at one point as well as another female dressed in a form-fitting, low-cut outfit. In fact, when kissing that latter woman (as he’s being controlled by Grandpa Eddie) Bravestone compels her to kiss him passionately over and over.

Through the magical water’s body-swap properties, Fridge has a short stretch controlling Ruby, too. He marvels at the avatar’s body and reports that the first thing he did upon taking control was to quickly touch her chests. A female character who ends up embodying a male likewise bends over to look at his (clothed) crotch. There’s also a slight wink made toward gender swapping in general.


VIOLENT CONTENT

There are many thumping, pummelling fights, shootings and explosions that unfold during the heroes' adventure. We also learn that each character has his or her own strengths and weaknesses.

Dr. Bravestone, for instance, is incredibly strong and at one point takes on scores of attackers, slamming them with mighty blows and driving marauding minions into walls with his fists. Also, when an avatar is defeated, he or she explodes in a red-tinged splash. We see all the heroes die in that manner (repeatedly too). Some are pecked at and killed by large ostriches (which are portrayed like feathered velociraptors). The heroes are also beaten and bitten by throngs of screeching mandrill monkeys in an extended scene that could be quite scary for young or sensitive viewers.

People get hit with axes and blown up by a rocket launcher missile. Others fall from great heights and are crushed by huge boulders. Cars crash and crumple. Someone is nearly swallowed whole by a giant python, and a man barely misses being chomped by a charging hippo.


CRUDE OR PROFANE LANGUAGE

We hear a surprising 15 misuses of God and Jesus’ names (combined), including a whopping eight pairings of God’s name with “d--n.” There are also two or three uses of the s-word, a stand-in for the f-word, and some 15 uses of “h---.”


OTHER NEGATIVE ELEMENTS

Grandpa Eddie points out that young Spencer only has a steady physical and emotional decline in front of him.


CONCLUSION

This latest Jumanji film can be deemed as a more-of-the-same sequel. If anything, it leaps into the sucked-into-a-video-game action much more quickly this round. And it offers even more of what you’d expect.

On the positive side, that equals an abundance of Indiana Jones-like rolling-boulder, thump-and-tumble, slapstick action. And along with a pumped-up cast list full of likeable characters, there are even more funny and sweet moments, as well as some nice lessons about the value of friends, the need for forgiveness and the quiet glory of growing old.

However, due to the foul language and violent content, it is inappropriate for families with young kids.


These reviews are meant to help parents determine whether a movie is appropriate for their children, and are not an endorsement by Focus on the Family Singapore.

This review was adapted from Plugged In: the entertainment guide your family needs to make family appropriate decisions through movie reviews, book reviews, TV reviews, and more.

 

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