In 2017, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE catapulted a new generation of moviegoers to the wild world of Jumanji. With an awesome cast that included Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, the sequel to the 1995 film put a majorly modern twist on an old favorite and became one of the biggest hits of the year.
Now, two years later, we’re heading back into the jungle for JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL. As the title suggests, this sequel takes the film series — and the game world it depicts — to new places as a slightly different group of characters is pulled into the game. One of those new "players" is a grumbling, slightly confused grandfather. The role turns a famed comedian into perhaps the most unlikely of all action heroes: Danny DeVito.
In WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, Spencer (Alex Wolff) and his classmates Bethany (Madison Iseman), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), and Martha (Morgan Turner) were sucked into the video game world of Jumanji. In the process, they inhabit characters from the game, played by Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan. While inside the game, the gang discovers a shelter created by Alan Parrish (a tribute to Robin Williams’ character from the 1995 movie) and rescues a man who’s been trapped in the game since he was a teenager. Spencer and his classmates become friends during their crazy, life-changing adventure. Once they win Jumanji and safely exit back to the real world, they destroy the game.
As you can see, Spencer didn’t exactly destroy the game, after all. In the sequel, Spencer takes the remaining pieces and rebuilds Jumanji in the basement of his grandfather’s house. When he gets siphoned back into the jungle game, it’s up to Bethany, Fridge, and Martha to use their knowledge of Jumanji to save Spencer. Now they have extra help from Spencer’s grandpa Eddie, played by Danny DeVito, and Eddie's eccentric friend Milo, played by Danny Glover.
DeVito goes over the top playing Eddie as an old, out of touch guy. He indulges in some eccentric, goofy expressions, the better to illustrate just how far from a video game adventurer Eddie really is. None of which is a stretch, and DeVito's comic style is a perfect fit for the role of a crotchety grandpa who couldn't possibly go off on a globe-trotting quest.
In WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, the kids were each assigned an avatar in the game world. For Bethany, the stereotypical popular girl, it was particularly hilarious: She was forced to play as Jack Black’s Professor Shelly character. How do you top Jack Black talking and acting like a teenage girl who’s obsessed with her appearance? THE NEXT LEVEL has a great idea.
This time around, Spencer isn’t playing the muscular hero Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson). Instead, his grandpa Eddie is taking over the Bravestone avatar. Danny DeVito "becomes" Dwayne Johnson, which means Dwayne Johnson has to act – and talk – like Danny DeVito. It might be Johnson’s biggest acting challenge yet, but he’s got the skills to succeed. Johnson's ability to twist his face into exaggerated, rubbery expressions certainly helps when working to capture the pure befuddlement on Eddie's face!
As the team’s leader, Dr. Bravestone is easily the strongest and bravest Jumanji avatar, which makes Eddie the hero by default. Danny DeVito, action hero? That might be the craziest thing we've seen in the world of Jumanji. We're now completely distracted imagining The Rock acting as Danny DeVito in films like ROMANCING THE STONE and WAR OF THE ROSES.
All your favorite characters from JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE are back for THE NEXT LEVEL. Along with Johnson and Wolff, there’s Kevin Hart as Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (he’ll be Danny Glover’s avatar this time around), Jack Black as Professor Shelly Oberon (played by Fridge), and Karen Gillan as Ruby Roundhouse (once again Martha’s avatar). They’re joined by Nick Jonas, returning as heroic game pilot Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough, Colin Hanks as Alex (the player Spencer and his friends rescued in the last movie), and rising superstar Awkwafina – whose role is still a mystery.
All images courtesy of Sony Pictures.