21 Jump Street was one of my favorite films of 2012. Smart, quirky, hilarious, and proved that remakes could work if they’re done in a loving way. When 22 Jump Street was announced, I was worried. Could lightning strike twice? Sequels to great comedies are usually terrible and unwarranted, so why would 22 Jump Street be any different? Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller must have realized our concerns too since 22 Jump Street takes all of those criticisms and says “Who cares? We’re doing this anyway and you’re going to love it.”
22 Jump Street is a ridiculously funny film that uses self-awareness to poke holes in the fact that every successful Hollywood film has to get a sequel.
22 Jump Street
Director: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Release Date: June 13, 2014
22 Jump Street (which now takes place at a Vietnamese church across the street), has officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) going to college on a mission to infiltrate the school, get close to the students, and to discover the suppliers of a new popular drug called “WHYPHY.” If the synopsis makes the film sound exactly like the first, it’s because it is! In a quirky turn of events, multiple references are made to the fact that this film is exactly like the first. As a shout out to sequels in the same predicament, Jump Street directly refers to the movie studio (as “The Police Department”) when Schmidt and Jenko are told to do things in the exact same fashion because it was successful the first time. Unfortunately, while this may be the film’s most hilarious gag, it’s also its biggest problem.
While referencing its blatant copying of the first film’s plot may be smart, it doesn’t change the fact that we’re watching the same movie. It’s a like a mask attempting to cover the film’s more noticeable flaws. When you want to point out why a scene or plot point might be funky, the film always tries to explain it away with “it was done that exact same way the first time.” In fact, there are no surprises in this film. You guess every twist, Schmidt and Jenko’s arcs are the same (they both separate as they fall into different social crowds, except this time it falls into place the way you expected it to in the first film), and with the surprise gone the film’s greater moments are a bit less effective. But in the same breath, as much as I can complain about the film’s similarity to the first, it’s also just as funny. It uses this similarity to further delve into the bromance between Schmidt and Jenko and just have a good time.
22 Jump Street has fantastic jokes. From cartoonishly out of place things like Benny Hill references, a school named “The Plainview Red Herrings,” to multiple sets of twins, each joke is delivered with ease and the improvisation is most definitely on point. Hill and Tatum are absolutely wonderful together as they’ve perfected the comedic rhythm they had in the first. Channing Tatum once again is easily one of the stand outs as much of his jokes had to have come from the man himself. It’s still so great to see Tatum deconstruct his Hollywood image as the buff everyman into a lovable goof. He also brings one of the film’s biggest laughs when he finally realizes the significance of one of the plot points.
If you love laughing at Jonah Hill, but not necessarily with, most of his jokes are self degrading in nature. He’s more of a straight man to Tatum’s goof this time around, but he still manages to provide many laughs with his physicality. The rest of the returning cast is in fine form as well. Nick Offerman does a lot with what little screen time he gets, Rob Riggle does great impressions, and newcomer (and Workaholics alum) Jillian Bell has a fantastic sense of deadpan delivery. But Ice Cube, with a welcome extended role as Captain Dickson, has to be the MVP of the whole thing. Every one of his lines are strong, and not a single moment with him is wasted.
Early into the film, you realize 22 Jump Street is going for over the top in the best way. It’s ludicrous, but restrains that stupidity in a way that just makes the film one big party. It’s not trying very hard to be a compelling film, but that’s sort of the point. You’re not supposed to sit there and poke at flaws (like I just did), you’re supposed to look at the ceiling and sort of thrust through it. And besides, it’s hard not to have a good time when everything is just fun to watch. I was laughing in large amounts, you’ll probably laugh in large amounts, and then you’ll go home smiling like an idiot. Like a good party with friends you’ve known for awhile. You’ll know their stories and jokes by now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be bored to tears.
22 Jump Street is a celebration of its existence. A well earned victory lap that openly mocks the fact that it was created in the first place. It throws caution into the wind, laughs at the fact it put in very little effort into the story, and even takes the bromance found in most buddy cop comedies to the next logical level. Lightning has definitely struck twice.
I didn’t want this party to end, and I can’t wait for Jump Street Generations.