22 JUMP STREET
2014, R, 112 mins.
2014, R, 112 mins.
Jonah Hill as Schmidt / Channing Tatum as Jenko / Ice Cube as Captain Dickson / Dave Franco as Eric Molson / Nick Offerman as Deputy Chief Hardy / Peter Stormare as Big Meat / Rob Riggle as Mr. Walters / Wyatt Russell as Benji / Amber Stevens as Maya / Jillian Bell as Brandi / Jimmy Tatro as Mandy Pandy
Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller / Written by Michael Bacall
do the same thing you did last last time and everyone will be happy!”
screams Ice Cube’s hysterically hostile police Captain Dickson to the
heroes in an opening scene in 22 JUMP STREET, which is, yes, the sequel to
2012’s 21 JUMP STREET.
You may recall that in the first film – which was an affectionate
skewering of not only of the 1987 Stephen J. Cannell and Patrick Hasburgh
TV series of the same name, but also of the laughable extremes of the buddy/cop action film genre - Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing
Tatum) were placed undercover as high school students to infiltrate a
nasty drug dealer. Now, they
are forced to do pretty much the same assignment, but only this time in college,
where a new designer drug called “WhyFy” (not to be confused with WiFi)
has killed one student.
JUMP STREET took great relish in mocking the stale and tired conventions
of action films. It was very
self-aware without coming off as smugly so, which is a tough dichotomy to
pull off. 22 JUMP STREET is a
sequel that goes completely out of its way to acknowledge that it’s a
blockbuster Hollywood sequel, complete with larger production values, a
vastly higher budget, and a need to top the first film in every
department. Part of the charm
of 22 JUMP STREET – much like its antecedent – lies with the amount of
jokes it piles up at the expense of how wrongheaded movie sequels are;
everyone…from directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller to Hill and
Tatum to, yes, even the audience itself…is in on the central gag of this
film. This is hammered
home very early in the film when Schmidt and Jenko go to their new
headquarters at 22 Jump Street (which replaces the now Korean-owned church
on 21 Jump Street, forcing a relocation), which is a Vietnamese Church.
It’s also a lavishly high tech command center for no real
reason, other than the fact that Captain Dickson has been given
carte blanche to have an HQ that’s “twice as expensive” as the one
from the first film, complete with a glassed walled office that looks like,
ahem, a “cube of ice.”
inspired absurdity of the film’s humor directed at the foibles of
sequel-itis does not end there; they just continue to gloriously snowball
and build strong comic momentum. After
reacquainting themselves with their boss, Schmidt and Jenko are sent off
to college on their new assignment to carry out the “same mission” as
before: find the dealer of WhyFy and find and shut down the supplier.
Of course, and much like in 21 JUMP STREET, the bumbling duo barely
pass for boys in their late teens, so they decide to blend in as much as
possible in the local college scene.
Schmidt becomes smitten with Maya (Amber Stevens) and has a
meet-cute with her at a slam poetry reading event, whereas Jenko revisits
his jock roots (that he was forced to abandon in his last mission) and
strikes up a friendship with football quarterback Zook (Wyatt Russell, son
of Kurt). Much like before,
Schmidt and Jenko get in too deep with acclimatizing themselves to college
life, which has the negative effect of straying them off track on their
mission. Predictably, this
causes riffs in their cop bromance, and even bigger riffs with their
increasingly angry boss that wants results ASAP.
have read some reviews of 22 JUMP STREET that have complained that the
film just regurgitates the same elements of the first film.
They miss the point altogether.
22 JUMP STREET is funny primarily because of its repetitious
manner. Lord and Miller are
as adept as any filmmakers working today at self-referential irony (see THE
LEGO MOVIE from earlier this year) and they manage to provide in
22 JUMP STREET precisely what modern filmgoers demand in sequels while
simultaneously condemning them for it. There are very few screen comedies that can invite viewers in
to laugh at the film and then perhaps at themselves and their
ever-diminishing tastes. The
sheer ridiculousness of movie sequels is hammered home time and time again
in the film, and right from the very get-go in a opening action sequence
involving the heroes and a 18-wheeler that’s so bloated and over-the-top
you want to roll your eyes in affectionate incredulity.
As far as meta films go, 22 JUMP STREET winks so hard at viewers
it’s likely to suffer from permanent facial paralysis.
may also overlook just how good of an on-screen pair Hill (also serving as
producer and co-writer) and Tatum are in these films.
Hill plays his spontaneous, fast-talking, yet deeply insecure
Schmidt with the right level of loveable cluelessness, and Tatum – an
actor that I’ve never really admired in dramatic roles – manages to
crush it in just about every scene he’s in as his perpetually dimwitted
knucklehead (he just seems more in his performance comfort zone and at
ease when he’s making a complete ass of himself).
Hill and Tatum, obviously enough, have had the opportunity to build
on their chemistry over the course of two films, but it’s undeniable
present in 22 JUMP STREET and carries the film.
The actors also are quite game at playing up to the rampant
homoerotic undertones of their friendship, especially when an unlikely
bromance triangle, if I can call it that, forms between them and the hunky
and charismatic Zook that makes Schmidt insanely jealous.
when some of the wink-wink, nudge-nudge gags don’t hit their intended
marks, there are nonetheless still more that are right on point in 22 JUMP
STREET. There’s an extended
drug trip sequence, during which time Schmidt and Jenko accidentally overdose
on WhyFy and hallucinate in all manners preposterous.
I laughed uncontrollably when Tatum’s lunkhead tries to cut
glass…with a laser pointer…while infiltrating a frat house.
Hill hits a comedic home run when he manages to rhyme “Jesus
cried” with the film RUNAWAY BRIDE during an inspired bit of hardcore
poetry improvisation. Ice
Cube himself even gets a lion’s share of the laughs this time as well,
especially at one point when – at his absolute wit’s end – manages
to take his simmering hatred of Schmidt (and one of his indiscretions that
hits the Captain rather hard) out on a buffet table; Ice Cube has never
been so impossibly – and drolly - coarse and bitter in a scene.
JUMP STREET culminates in an action climax set against the backdrop of a massive party on a
Mexican beach during Spring Break that involves foot chases, fisticuffs,
gun battles, a high speed chase with Schmidt attempting to shift in and
out of gear in a Lamborghini, and many double crosses and reveals.
Lord and Miller throw so much at the screen in the final act
that, in a normal film, you’d write them off for being mindlessly
excessive. Yet, 22 JUMP
STREET revels in self-mocking excess and emerges as a thanklessly
intelligent send-up of not only the TV series, but of the riotous impulses
of Hollywood to makes sequels that are bigger, but not aesthetically
better. Alas, Lord and Miller
are not done when the film ends, people. The end credit sequence itself is a masterfully side-splitting shot
at mass marketing, merchandising, and how Hollywood seems to think they
know exactly what people want in numerous sequels to beloved franchises.
For the record, I’d pay to see Schmidt and Jenko undercover in culinary school.