Film Review – 22 Jump Street
22 Jump Street
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have made quite a name for themselves in the five years since their feature film debut, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. In addition to 2012’s 21 Jump Street, they helmed the runaway success that is The Lego Movie. If you think about it (and allow your cynicism to take hold) though, none of these films should have worked. Meatballs managed to mine gold from a waif thin children’s book and The Lego Movie was way more clever and endearing than a toy tie-in cash grab had any right to be. And 21 Jump Street? The internet scoffed to high heaven upon its announcement. Who could blame them, really? A reboot, which is a bad word around these parts anyway, and one of an 80’s property that was never that good to begin with. We all saw what happened to The A-Team (may they rest in peace). But all scoffing came to a halt upon its release when we were presented with a hilarious, sweet and fully self-aware summer comedy. It did gang busters at the box office so a sequel was inevitable, but what could they do to top themselves? Turns out the winning formula is nothing. Hit on all the things that made the first one a success. Just be sure to comment on it as you do so.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are back in 22 Jump Street as our favorite R-rated twosome, Schmidt and Jenko. Following the successful undercover sting of the first installment, they’re re-introduced to us amidst a drug bust gone horribly awry. Proving themselves unsurprisingly inept at actual police work, Chief Hardy (a returning Nick Offerman) puts them back on the program that worked out so well for them before. In maybe the most meta moment ever put to film, Hardy explains that the first “mission” (read: movie) went so shockingly well that they were left with no option but to do a second “mission” (read: still movie). A sample line of dialogue: “You see, the guys in charge of this stuff lack creativity and are completely out of ideas. So all they do now is recycle shit from the past and expect us all not to notice.” He further explains that the budget has vastly expanded, leading to jokes like Jenko’s observation when arriving at the new operation headquarters: “This is awesome! Like, way more expensive for no reason.”
I like these sorts of winking references, I really do, but feel like they’ve gone and eaten up half of the running time with it rather than tell a decent extension of the story. Much like the first mission (by design OR AREN’T YOU EVEN PAYING ATTENTION), Schmidt and Jenko must pose as students, this time college, and sniff out the source of an experimental drug that led to the death of a student. Changing things up slightly, Schmidt is now the outcast while Jenko makes fast friends with the football team. Jealousy takes hold and their partnership is threatened. Hill and Tatum can really sell this stuff and manage to flawlessly inject a lot of sweetness into these often hilarious scenes. That said, when the hell are we going to get over this idea that friends mistaken for a gay couple equals comedy gold? Scene after scene we watch them quibble adorably and refer to themselves as “partners,” causing everyone in earshot to giggle and act uncomfortable. This is lazy, lazy stuff and often drags down the momentum of scenes.
For all my griping, I laughed a lot at 22 Jump Street. The chemistry between Tatum and Hill is undeniable and the onslaught of hilarious cameos keeps anything from growing stale. Lord and Miller are killing it and I look forward to anything they’re attached to. Let’s just ease up a little on the gay panic schtick.
Side note: Hands down the funniest closing credit sequence I’ve seen in years.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06rvPK8ydZo&w-560&h=315]