Review: 22 Jump Street
That 22 Jump Street, the rather surprisingly hysterical sequel to a rather surprisingly successful reboot, is entirely self-aware and even at times accidentally meta makes this second installment worthwhile. As Nick Offerman’s Deputy Police Chief Hardy tells his odd-couple police partner underlings, they’re going to stick to the assignment that found them success in the first place and do the exact same thing they did during the first movie – except with a bigger budget and cooler toys.
It’s not a move to necessarily lower expectations by any means. Instead this early winking moment and the myriad that follow serve to acknowledge that this is a summer blockbuster sequel, and directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller will do everything they can to make it enjoyable even if it’s not novel.
An early altercation with a cephalopod sets the mood. It’s an indication not of an endeavor for the most absurd of antics, but that there energy and exuberance driving every scene. 22 Jump Street a combination of cringe-worthy embarrassment, physical comedy, self-referential gags, earnest tomfoolery, ludicrous conversations taking place at dire moments, and simply excess.
Schmidt (Jonah Hill) is all too enthusiastic, having had fun undercover in high school the first time around while his partner Jenko (Channing Tatum) took a bullet for him. So in this go, which funs the friends going to college, Schmidt assures that not only will Jenko have a riot in college (which he does), but if he gets shot at, Schmidt will be there. They are set to have a better time, and the audience does too.
So while the story is admittedly the same – the boys go undercover to stop the distribution of a hot new drug while learning about themselves and each other (and human sexuality, in one particularly meta moment) – that which is familiar looks to be either exaggerated or subverted. Firstly, they have a new set up across the street from the old one (hence, 22 Jump Street), where Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) touts an incredible expensive set up when not giving the deadliest Dead-Eye seen.
In another instance, the unimpressed roommate (Jillian Bell) of a student Schmidt spends time with unleashes a barrage of insults about how old Schmidt is. It’s a scene that goes on and on, and a joke that many others are in on too. And yes, both Hill and Tatum seem a bit too old to be in college, but hey, it’s a sequel.
The plot takes a backseat to the evolving friendship between partners Schmidt and Jenko, two young men who are more in a relationship and get jealous when the other ventures off to have too much fun. The laughs come not at the fact that they display homoerotic tendencies, but that they don’t quite know how to deal with the fact they both care about each other so much.
Thus, in this sequel, Tatum and Hill effectively shore up their status as loveable buddy-cop best friends – and set things up for a third film (or who knows how many).
Before looking ahead, they have to solve another case, one in which the parts are more important than the whole. Schmidt forms a relationship with Maya (Amber Stevens), while Jenko forms one with Zook, the quarterback of the football and an iron-pumping, beer-pong playing super dude – just like Jenko. The college antics are mildly amusing if not overdone, but Jenko seeks this experience while Schmidt is completely out of place (which happened in the first movie, the other way around. See?)
The lengthy runtime only briefly drags before the final act, but it’s worth the payoff, not for the action-packed conclusion so much, but for the gags that run when the credits start rolling. 22 Jump Street is enough new, enough old, the right amount of humble, and plenty hilarious.