Explosive, funny, strangely sweet and self mocking. ’22 Jump Street’ jumps right in with both feet to create a sequel that is in fact bigger and better than the original. A great achievement and one that ironically goes against its own inner script of sequels being worse off.
This recent trip into Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) bro cop routine sees them heading back undercover, though this time the no nonsense Captain – Dickson (Ice Cube) is at the address of 22 Jump St. and sends them to college to sniff out some new expanding drug circuit. There is more of the same in infiltrating the dealers and finding the suppliers as the main plot though it does step up in scale.
The plot itself is extremely similar to that of the 2012 film and can at sometimes feel slightly repetitive but that’s part of the humour they set up in the meeting with Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) and in general the style of this movie in them clearly laughing at themselves works nicely. The conversation doesn’t explicitly mock sequels but it is clear as they discuss the needless probable failures of secondary missions they’re alluding to follow up movies. The mickey taking of how sequels are bigger budget is dealt with by having Dickson’s office ramped up in Iron Man expense and explosions coming at every angle in chases. The comment as the bad guys smash through things for no reason is just brilliant and hits the mark of sending up movies that make stuff go boom or crash for little purpose other than to look big.
There is by and large a successful degree of comedy in this movie with funny references to sequels, Ice Cube’s name and career and the strange fight Schmidt has near the end. There’s a scene involving focus and cameras that is ludicrous and goes on it’s way to nearly striking comedy gold, then there’s the discovery and consequence of Schmidt’s sexual conquest makes for some awesomely funny times. Most of the humour does boil down to the doofish goofball nature of the two leading male’s buddy pairing. It’s an excellently played bromance that feels real and the play on relationship becomes apt for the college setting and makes for an odd yet sweet lovely duo. The walk of shame moments and the conversations that sound like break ups and make ups are smart and played expertly by the actors and you can just tell Hill and Tatum are having a ball taking this film to the next level.
The switch up in the relationship to see how each react to the inevitable split is cued perfectly and each play their new individual roles in the college scene well. The constant and amusing barrage of age jokes made against Hill is frankly hilarious and one liners do come thick and fast with Lord and Millers creative speedy directing style. They know how to make a film with legs and their direction creates an energetic comic trip that sometimes blows the first offering straight outta Compton….out of the water, sorry.
Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill just work. They click and become the hottest comedy double act with such ease and make this film their own, you can kind of tell when there’s improving going on but that doesn’t detract from the movie in any way. Tatum brings out the guns and plays dumb just as efficiently as last time out though this time he gets to be the much loved guy and Hill does the more clingy loner act which he can play supremely well. Ice Cube needs gigantic credit for his role as he’s frankly amazing and sometimes steals the show from under Tatum and Hill’s noses. The looks and aggressive manner he carries with swagger are top notch and I’m glad he got more to do in this film.
There are some weakness though as there doesn’t seem to be as much of that same frantic style that cuts to something random and the line from the trailer about jumping in your ass, right in the crack wasn’t funny in the promo let alone still left in the film. Also the visit to the jail to see ’21 Jump Street’ characters wasn’t at all funny and only served as a purpose to provide a visual clue for Jenko and Schmidt that they’d missed. It could also be critiqued as trying too hard to realise it’s taking the mick out of sequels and itself but that’s slightly pushing for a further gripe.
Overall the film does hit higher heights than the first and punches through the ceiling again and again, trying and most of the time succeeding in not being dragged down by its own ‘bad sequel’ admission. It plays on self awareness and utilises the buffoonish traits of Tatum and Hill to make something funny and better.
(Oh and stick around through the credits too, brilliant send ups of this 21 Jump Street initiative can be witnessed)