22 Jump Street (Columbia Pictures)
Rated R for language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity and some violence.
Starring Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Peter Stormare, Wyatt Russell, Amber Stevens, Jillian Bell, Ice Cube, The Lucas Brothers, Nick Offerman, Jimmy Tatro, Caroline Aaron, Craig Roberts, Marc Evan Jackson, Joe Chrest, Eddie J. Fernandez.
Written by Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, Rodney Rothman and Jonah Hill, based on the TV series created by Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell.
Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
The funny thing about sequels is…well, not much – usually. Such is the case with many comedy franchises that peter out after initial success (The Hangover, Men In Black, etc.). But what if the idea of sequel clichés were exploited? That’s the formula for Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the comedic geniuses behind Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (I&II), The Lego Movie and 2012’s 21 Jump Street. They have become masters of the cliché exposé, and nothing proves this more than the sequel to 21 Jump Street called – wait for it – 22 Jump Street (the title being an outward sequel cliché in itself).
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are back as Schmidt and Jenko, two (sort of) young-looking drug cops assigned to go undercover as high school students in the original film (based on the 1980s-90s TV series starring Johnny Depp). When their efforts to make it as regular cops fails, their leader Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) assigns them to pose as college students to get to the bottom of a drug ring inside Metro City State. Upon arrival, Schmidt hooks up with a beautiful poetry student named Maya (Amber Stevens), who happens to be Capt. Dickson’s daughter. Jenko tries out for the football team and makes friends with the star quarterback Zook (Wyatt Russell). As the partners get deeper into their investigation, the distractions of college life makes them drift apart, causing pain and resentment. When the case appears to be solved, they go their separate ways until they realize how good they had it when they were working together – just in time to capture the real culprits.
22 Jump Street is the funniest movie since – The Lego Movie (albeit with much more adult content), and it should be no surprise as to why. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have found a place as the freshest comedic talent working in movies today. They have a flair for exposing clichés, and 22 Jump Street proves they know how to hit all of them square in the face, like a 80s police detective captain with a bad temper (i.e. Ice Cube’s Capt. Dickson).
22 Jump Street has so many cop sequel gags (that work), you are sure to miss many of them over your own laughter. It should be noted that Tatum holds his own with Jonah Hill in delivering most of the laughs, and it proves he’s more than just a reformed Chippendale’s dancer.
The movie’s only flaw is when it strays from the absurd and into Jonah Hill sight gags, right down to the stuff that exploits his weight and flair for goofy monologues (he gets a co-writer credit for this).
I look forward to what Lord and Miller have planned for the future, because their flair for humor is what Hollywood has been missing. They are the guys responsible for Clone High, several episodes of How I Met Your Mother and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Let’s hope they can keep up the quality humor on the big screen, too.