22 Jump Street Review
Just over the road from 21 Jump Street
With Tatum and Hill on fine form, 22 Jump Street takes it to the limit in an effort to outdo its predecessor, sending up everything from sequels to buddy-buddy movies, Ice Cube to White House Down in a shotgun blast attempt to garner laughs, hitting the mark more often than not.The follow up to the 2012 action-comedy 21 Jump Street sees the inept-cops-who-went-undercover-in-High-School now, as noted at the end of that movie, sent to College to repeat the same formula as before and catch yet another group of criminals peddling a new drug, which is threatening to explode from the dormitories and onto the streets if they’re not stopped. Their bromance hits a speed bump though as Jenko finds his success as a jock pushing his life in a different direction from the bumbling Schmidt, who is himself caught up in a sea of pretentious art majors and wannabe poets. Will the undercover ‘brothers’ get it together in time to take down the bad guys and hit spring break?22 Jump Street gets off to a good start, and maintains a knowing sense of self-depreciation as it mocks the notion of retreading the same events as before, and balks at the idea of seeing double the results just because they have twice the police budget to work with. It then leaps headfirst into a wonderful double-bromance, as Jenko finds a new partner, only this time on the pitch, sending Schmidt into a fit of jealousy. The jokes come fast and furious in the form of a broad salvo that is so ‘let’s see what sticks’ that you may well miss a bunch of them entirely (and others are deeply meta, which will no doubt reward second time around). The approach isn't misguided since plenty of jokes hit their mark, and many will have you laughing out loud.
Of course the reason why they go out of their way to parody the notion of repeating the same formula is partly to cover up the fact that they are essentially repeating the same formula, and, at times, the cracks between the seams do begin to show. And, given the fact that the film clocks in at almost 2 hours long, it certainly overstays its welcome, tacking on an entire fourth act in a fashion not wholly unlike Anchorman 2 (which similarly had almost an entire act which could have been ripped straight out), and going for broke in sheer volume, occasionally at the expense of quality of content.
Still, there’s certainly a game cast who ensure that you’re reasonably well entertained for the duration. Channing Tatum continues to show that he’s actually a remarkably impressive comic actor, and Jonah Hill is a perfect foil for him; Ice Cube gets more screentime this time around, thankfully; and a whole assortment of new faces give both leads fresh new avenues for their respective skills – amidst them Kurt Russell’s son, Wyatt, playing, to homoerotic perfection, Tatum’s American Football ‘bro’, and the 27 year-old Amber Stevens convincing as a ten-year-younger love interest to the 30 year old Hill.
Funny, engaging, but marginally overlong, 22 Jump Street still marks a welcome return for Tatum and Hill’s inept undercover duo.
Highlights include the boys going undercover as Hispanic drug dealers; finishing each others’ sentences intentionally badly; slam poetry and improv’; the drug-taking enhanced attention and subsequent tripping; the weird roommate; Ice Cube losing the plot, twice (reason alone for why this earned an R-rating in the US; it's ironic to think that there are far more R-rated comedies than actioners, which are all so desperate to be PG-13, and yet the comedies don't appear to come up short in terms of Box Office returns); and, of course, the hilarious homoerotic jock bromance that sparks up out of a very literal meat-cute.
The film lulls its way through a few quieter moments, and does outstay welcome, but it still manages to – for the most part – keep the momentum going through that running theme of self-depreciation and sequel parody. It’s basically 21 Jump Street, except in College, but that’s really not such a bad thing at all. Who can complain about getting the boys back together for another round, particularly when everybody appears to be having such a blast.
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