When Jumanji sequel Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle arrived in cinemas in 2017, it included a very sweet tribute to the original 1995 film, paying tribute to Robin Williams’ lead character Alan Parrish that tipped a wink to fans of the franchise and acknowledged Williams’ importance to their story.
So perhaps it should be no surprise that new sequel Jumanji: The Next Level also includes a subtle callback to the 1995 movie – even if it might be tricky to spot at first.
For the most part The Next Level is almost completely separate from the events of the original Jumanji, with the iconic cursed board game replaced by a videogame and the story picking up from the 2017 follow-up instead – but the name of one crucial location may ring a bell to big-time fans.
Early in the film, the cast meet at a place called Nora’s diner for brunch, a restaurant that has some bad memories for Spencer’s grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) and his former business partner Milo (Danny Glover) – and when the characters return there later in the film, it’s revealed that “Nora” is non other than Nora Shepherd, a key figure in the original 1995 movie played by Bebe Neuwirth.
Specifically, Nora was the aunt of main characters Peter and Judy (Bradley Pierce and Kirsten Dunst) who took them in after their parent’s death, and moved with them to Brantford, New Hampshire (the same setting for the modern Jumanji films) at the beginning of the first Jumanji, kickstarting the whole story.
Anyway, in the years since Nora clearly decided to stick around in Brantford, opening her restaurant and making friends with DeVito’s Eddie, and it’s great to see Neuwirth back in the role.
Now, if they can just tempt Kirsten Dunst or Bonnie Hunt back for whatever sequel they make to The Next Level, we’ll really be in business…
Jumanji: The Next Level is in cinemas now