Spoilers for the third Jumanji movie can be found throughout this article. If you still haven’t caught the movie yet, what’s stopping you?
When Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle came out in 2017, there was a lot of talk about how the reboot would connect to the original movie starring Robin Williams and Bonnie Hunt. When Jumanji: The Next Level came around, we already knew The Rock, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan’s take was a hit, so there was much less talk about the original, but director Jake Kasdan has revealed the new movie does still page homage to the 1995 movie, specifically through the reintroduction of Nora.
In fact, in a recent interview Jake Kasdan revealed the franchise is always looking for little nods to each of the movies. The Next Level features a great cake joke referencing Welcome to the Jungle, for example, and the new movie also brings back the aforementioned Nora character from the Robin Williams version, though you may not have latched onto the callback during your theatrical experience. (Although great memory if you did!) Per Kasdan:
You know, it’s within the context of we’re trying to protect stories. That being said, the woman that Danny DeVito is talking to at the end of the movie, Nora, she’s in the first movie and she’s sort of coming back in the same character that she was in the original movie. She played the kids’ aunt who brings them to Branford in the first place.
If you can remember 1995’s Jumanji, Bebe Neuwirth’s Nora Shepherd is not the main adult character in the female, who is Alan Parrish’s childhood compatriot Sarah Whittle, as played by Bonnie Hunt. However, she is the aunt who takes over the care of the two kids, Judy and Peter, in the original movie. In that film, she originally wants to turn the Parrish mansion into a bed and breakfast, and in some ways, her livelihood in the new movie is not that far off.
Nora then makes a return in Jumanji: The Next Level as the woman who has a connection with Grandpa Eddie (Danny DeVito), and who took over the diner as the new owner once Eddie and Danny Glover’s Milo called it quits. At the end of the movie, Eddie and Nora reunite and Eddie offers to do a little work for her so he can get back to doing what he loves.
From what Jake Kasdan told The Wrap, the franchise is always really careful with how it pays homage to the Robin Williams classic. It has to be, given the 1995 movie really resets itself at the end, meaning the creative team has had to be really careful with any references and connections that have been made. In the first movie, for example, fans got to see "Alan Parrish was here" written within the game as a nice Easter egg for the fans. As for "the challenge" behind getting it right, Kasdan also mentioned:
The challenge is that the original Jumanji kind of time warps itself out of existence at the end of the movie so that the events of that movie never happened, so it kind of has a Back to the Future trick. That makes it very hard to have threads from that movie continue into our movies, although it’s also important for us to try where we can to make that happen because we have a lot of reverence for that movie and I think it’s a stronger methodology if they do connect… That’s one of my favorite scenes in the movie.
Jumanji: The Next Level also connects to the original Robin Williams film at the end of the movie. While Spencer and the gang feel as if they are finally out of the video game for good, that may not be true. The end of the flick features a scene where the ostriches from the second movie come out of the game and onto the streets of Branford, similar to the rules in the original film, which had characters coming out of the game and not people going into the game.
Will Jumanji 4 be happening? It hasn’t been officially greenlighted yet -- and some of the actors are pretty darn busy -- but this ending does seem to indicate there will be more connections to the Robin Williams movie in the franchise’s future. For now, we wait, and you can see The Next Level as many times as you want in theaters right now. Dwayne Johnson will be sure to thank you.