Movie review: Jumanji: The Next Level
When is a Rock not a Rock? When he is a DeVito.
While the Dwayne Johnson-Kevin Hart double act has been going for some time on-screen and in social media, the prospect of another film of them can be daunting.
You know what you will get, but it is not for everyone. Even Johnson's considerable charm has its limits.
So it is a smart move to turn Johnson into Danny DeVito's oblivious, cantankerous old man in this sequel to 2017's Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, the least aware of all the players.
And it is a masterstroke to spike Hart's angry squawking and get him to channel the much slower, venerable Danny Glover.
The loss of their regular personalities really gives the film more room to breathe and provides a new, richer seam of comedy.
While there is no change for Karen Gillan (mostly), Jack Black returns from his triumphant channelling of wannabe-influencer mean girl Bethany in the first film to try on a few more personalities for size.
And there is Awkwafina adding some new energy to the dynamic.
There is also the added spectacle of the mystery of Colin Hanks' face. His visage has the uncanny ability to look young and old at the same time – without visual effects.
Do not expect too much from the plot though.
The scenarios may be different – with snow and sand added to the jungle mix – but it is still pretty much "get the jewel, win the game".
But then, who needs too much plot?
The chemistry of the gang is what matters here.
If Jumanji: The Next Level has any real downside, it is that too much time is spent reintroducing the teenage gang in the real world.
It is hard to bother about these characters who are still little more than basic stereotypes - nerd, jock, wallflower, ditz.
Thank goodness then for DeVito (the real one, not The Rock impression). He does much of the heavy lifting to make us care about what is happening in reality. But even then, you just want to get in the game.
That said, once returning director Jake Kasdan gets us into the action, it is a fun fantasy romp that matches the thrills with the laughs – and the perfect antidote for those feeling Frozen out.
FILM: Jumanji: The Next Level
STARRING: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Awkwafina
DIRECTOR: Jake Kasdan
THE SKINNY: College-going friends Fridge, Martha and Bethany have to go rescue Spencer from the broken Jumanji video game. But this time, Spencer's grandfather Eddie (DeVito) and his frenemy Milo (Glover) are along for the ride.